9-months-pregnant woman shot dead in southern Thailand

HAD YAI, Thailand (AP) " A nine-months-pregnant woman has been shot dead in southern Thailand by a gunman suspected of being a Muslim insurgent, police said Sunday.

A gunman who arrived by motorcycle walked up to two women eating at a street stall Saturday evening in Pattani province's Panarae district, shooting both before fleeing, said police Capt. Norawit Thongsod.

The pregnant woman was killed in the attack, while her wounded companion survived. Doctors performed a C-section operation on the mortally wounded woman but could not save the baby.

More than 6,000 people have been killed since a separatist insurgency flared in 2004 in Thailand's three southernmost provinces, the only ones with Muslim majorities in the predominantly Buddhist country. Muslims in the area have long complained about being treated as second-class citizens, and have a decades-long history of sometimes violent resistance.

The insurgents are loyal to several groups whose main goals appear to be some form of political autonomy. They are not generally seen as embracing the sort of extremism found among Islamists in parts of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, though concerns have been raised over whether the Islamic State group was winning followers among Thai Muslims.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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