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May 23, 6:55 AM EDT

2 army rangers killed in troubled southern Thailand

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HAT YAI, Thailand (AP) -- Attackers in southern Thailand fatally shot two army rangers at close range Tuesday, police said, the latest killings in a region that has been plagued by a long-running Muslim separatist insurgency.

The army rangers were patrolling a community village on motorcycles when attackers remotely detonated a bomb as the rangers rode by, said police Lt. Montri Janmuang. The attackers then shot them at close range.

The attack happened in Yala, one of three southern provinces where Muslim separatists have been fighting a long-running insurgency in the predominantly Buddhist nation.

In a separate incident Tuesday in the neighboring province of Narathiwat, police Col. Satit Kasetkalam said attackers planted an improvised explosive device and remotely blew up the car of a soldier who was on patrol. The vehicle was damaged but the explosion did not cause any injuries.

More than 6,500 people have been killed in the separatist insurgency, which flared in 2004.

Tuesday's violence came a day after a bombing at a military-run hospital in Bangkok wounded 21 people. Such attacks in Bangkok are usually blamed on political unrest and are considered unrelated to the southern insurgency.

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