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PATTANI, Thailand (Reuters) - Security forces in Thailand's restive south killed six suspected Muslim insurgents on Tuesday in a gunbattle, police said.
The clash came after dozens of police and soldiers surrounded a house in Pattani province's Kok Poh district on a tip-off about the whereabouts of suspected militants, said Maj. Gen. Pichet Pitisetpan.
"They did not turn themselves in and instead opened fire from inside the house on the officers, so the security forces had to fire back," he said, adding that two soldiers were wounded.
The insurgency in Thailand's three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat has killed more than 3,600 people, both Buddhists and Muslims, since early 2004.
The troubled region bordering Malaysia, only a few hours by car from some of Thailand's best-known tourist beaches, has seen an upsurge in violence as ethnic Malay Muslims fight for autonomy from Thailand's Buddhist majority.
A massive counter-insurgency effort occasionally slows the pace of attacks but has shown little sign of ending the violence.
The daily attacks, which include drive-by shootings and bombings, are believed intended to frighten Buddhist residents into leaving the only predominantly Muslim areas of Thailand.
Authorities say the insurgents also target Muslims seen as collaborating with the government, including Muslim soldiers, police, informants and civilians.
But some Muslims believe the rogue security forces or Buddhist vigilantes might have a hand in the attacks on Muslims.
(Reporting by Surapan Boonthanom. Writing By Ambika Ahuja; Editing by Jason Szep and Sanjeev Miglani)

Reuters