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Thai PM: Fear Interfering with Fight against Militants

Thailand's prime minister says fear is the reason people in the country's south are reluctant to cooperate with government efforts to crack down on militants.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said in his weekly radio address Saturday that Muslims in the violence-plagued south are frightened of the militants who live among them. Mr. Thaksin just returned from a two-day tour of the troubled region.

Violence there continued Saturday. Police say a Buddhist couple were shot in Pattani province where they sold vegetables. A village defense volunteer was also killed by gunmen in Narathiwat province.

The killings follow separate bombings Thursday and Friday in Narathiwat. At least eight people were injured.

During his visit, the prime minister visited relatives of suspected separatist leaders and the sites of several recent deadly attacks.

Separatist fighting in the Muslim southern provinces has killed about 1,000 people since 2004.