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Soldiers, journalists hurt in bombings in Thailand

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October 19, 2013 06:48 AM EST | AP

HAT YAI, Thailand — HAT YAI, Thailand (AP) — Eight soldiers and five journalists were injured in two consecutive bomb blasts Saturday in Thailand's insurgency-plagued south, police said.

The first bomb went off on a road in Ra-ngae district in Narathiwat province, injuring six soldiers who were on foot patrol, said Police Col. Jiradet Phrasawang. Three of the soldiers were in serious condition.

The second bomb exploded an hour later about 100 meters (328 feet) from the first blast as a bomb squad and journalists were arriving at the scene, Jiradet said.

Two Explosive Ordnance Disposal officers were hurt in the second blast, and five journalists — a Thai photographer for the French news agency Agence France-Presse and two reporters from Thai television stations — were slightly wounded, Jiradet said.

The AFP photographer was identified as 44-year-old Madaree Tohlala.

More than 5,000 people have been killed in predominantly Buddhist Thailand's three Muslim-dominated southernmost provinces since an Islamic insurgency erupted in 2004.

The regular attacks in the sub-region, with security officers as one of the main targets, are seen as a hindrance to the Thai government's attempt to revive peace talks with the Muslim militants after both sides signed a breakthrough deal in February, agreeing to hold discussions to ease nearly a decade of violence. New talks have repeatedly been postponed since insurgents in August accused the government of failing to respond to their demands.