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Bombs hit banks in Thai south 01/09/2006

A series of explosions at banks in Thailand's Yala province have killed at least one person and injured 29 others.

Police say bombs went off almost simultaneously at 22 outlets in Yala town and outlying areas of the southern province.

No one has taken responsibility, but police say they suspect Muslim militants are behind the attacks.

Hidden in handbags

Our correspondent in Bangkok, Karen Percy, says the devices are said to have been hidden in thick books or in women's handbags.

Some were left inside the banks, some in automatic teller machine booths, others in rubbish bins.


The Thai national security agency had been anticipating a possible attack on Thursday, which is Malaysian independence day.

The province of Yala shares a border with Malaysia.

Thursday also marks the 16th anniversary of the founding of the secretive Bersatu Muslim separatist group, which operates in the south.

Yala is one of three mainly Muslim provinces in Thailand's south hit by more than two years of violence.

Near-daily bomb blasts, targeted killings and other attacks have killed at least 1,400 people since January 2004.

The three provinces were an ethnic Malay sultanate until Buddhist Thailand annexed them a century ago, and separatist unrest has simmered ever since.

Produced by Radio Australia and Australia Network

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