Pattani, Thailand - An explosion Monday at a crowded morning market in Yala City injured 28 people, two of them critically, army sources said.
The bomb, planted inside a motorcycle that was parked near a pork meat vendor at Yala's open-air market, exploded at 7:30 am, injuring the civilians and three soldiers, First Army Region chief Lieutenant General Phichit Wisaijorn said.
He blamed Muslim separatists for the latest act of violence.
"We had received a tipoff to prepare for a car bomb, but they used a motorcycle instead," Phichit said. Police reportedly checked the parked motorcycle minutes before it went off, but failed to detect the bomb.
Thailand's three southernmost provinces - Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala - have been plagued by violence since January 4, 2004, when Muslim militants raided an army depot, killing four soldiers and making off with 300 weapons, escalating the separatist struggle.
An estimated 3,500 people have died in clashes, bombings, revenge killings and beheadings in Thailand's so-called deep south
Besides a long-simmering separatist struggle in the region, which borders Malaysia, the three provinces have a recent history of lucrative but illicit trade in smuggling, drugs and protection rackets.
About 80 per cent of the region's 2 million people are Muslims. Of the 300,000 Thai Buddhists who lived in the region, some 70,000 have reportedly left their homes over the past six years.
Although the region, which centuries ago was the independent Islamic sultanate of Pattani, was conquered by Bangkok about 200 years ago, it has never wholly submitted to Thai rule.
Analysts said the region's Muslim population, the majority of whom speak a Malay dialect and follow Malay customs, feels alienated from the predominantly Buddhist Thai state. (dpa)