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Thai monks slashed to death

Thailand boosted its military in the region to try and quell a recent eruption of violence .
Thailand boosted its military in the region to try and quell a recent eruption of violence .

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Bangkok (Thailand)

BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- Two Buddhist monks have been slashed to death in separate roadside attacks in southern Thailand, two days after a similar attack which police blamed on Muslim extremists.

The killings -- which police said appeared to be coordinated and simultaneous -- took place 10 kilometers apart at about 6 a.m. local time Saturday in Yala, about 1,100 kilometers south of Bangkok, police said.

The monks were each walking on their morning rounds of receiving alms when attackers, armed with long knives, approached on motorbikes.

The murdered monks were identified as Pra Vichai, a 63-year-old a senior monk, and Novice Jepasak, a teenaged monk.

Another monk was killed in the same manner and in the same area on Thursday.

Investigators also believe the Friday night shooting death of a police officer in the nearby province of Pattani may be related to recent separatist unrest in the region.

Six people were killed during a series of attacks on government targets earlier this month, including a raid on a Thai army camp, the torching of 18 schools and the planting of two motorcycle bombs planted.

Officials have insisted the attackers were "common bandits" but local police and military officials have said they suspect the attacks may have been carried out by Muslim militants as part of a broader campaign to separate the country's five southernmost, Muslim-majority provinces from overwhelmingly Buddhist Thailand

The area is predominantly Muslim but a significant Buddhist population has lived there for many years in harmony.

-- Freelance reporter Narunart Prapanya contributed to this report.

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