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Southern Thailand hotel bombing spurs security warnings

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Bangkok's Nation newspaper said security forces shot dead a suspected insurgent and injured another during a dawn raid Tuesday on a village in Narathiwat. Three suspects fled from a house and exchanged fire with a joint police-military task force sent to arrest a suspect accused of carrying out bomb attacks.

The fallout from Saturday night's powerful hotel car bombing has reverberated in Bangkok, reports Agence France-Presse. Thailand Interior Minister Chalerm Yubamrung admitted Tuesday that he "had no idea" how to solve the conflict. He said the conflict stems from Muslim grievances over discrimination.

The US State Department advised citizens Tuesday to postpone trips to the south, as recent violence has shifted to public places where tourists may be at risk, the Associated Press reports.

An editorial in the Nation says that two bombs concealed inside a parked car blasted an outdoor terrace at the hotel, the CS Pattani, but a third bomb nearby didn't explode. The hotel was seen as a haven that had stayed clear of the conflict, and its owner was elected as senator in 2006 for the mostly Muslim province. The target appeared to be a blow to government officials, who have tried in past years to broker peace talks with exiled militant leaders.

Writing on Counterterrorism blog, Zachary Abuza, an analyst based in the United States, said the attack was not the first time that militants had used car bombs in the south, but was the first in over a year. Military counterinsurgent operations successfully stemmed a surge in violence in 2007 but killings remain above the four-year average.

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