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Suspected Militants Torch 5 Schools in Southern Thailand


Thai police say suspected separatist militants have set fire to five schools in Thailand's south, where militants frequently target state-run institutions to protest the government's presence in the region.

Police said Monday that a health office and a teacher's house also were set ablaze in Pattani province Sunday. No one was injured.

Authorities blame the attacks on militants believed to be fighting for a separate Muslim state in Thailand's three southernmost provinces, near Malaysia. The militants frequently target schools, which they say represent the Buddhist-dominated government.

Pattani has been particularly volatile over the past week, since Thai troops shot dead three teenagers in what police say was an act of self defense. Hundreds of Muslims protested the shooting Saturday.

At least two thousand people have been killed in bombings, shootings and arson attacks throughout the region over the past three years. Authorities have blamed some of the violence on organized crime and corrupt officials.