Blasts rock Thai polling stations

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Sunday, April 2, 2006

Several explosions occurred at polling stations in Narathiwat, Thailand, during the current snap election. Narathiwat is one of the country's southern Muslim-majority provinces. Two policemen and four soldiers were injured. The area is a often seen as a hotbed of activity as a result of the resident separatist rebels. More than 1,200 people have died in clashes and revenge killings in the troubled southern region, all directly linked to the insurgents, who are mainly spread across three of the main Muslim provinces.

The election has been called three years early because Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is accused of corruption and abuse of power, has been the subject of increasing discontent in several anti-government protests across the country.

In protest of the election, three of the rival parties in the Thai Parliament have begun a boycott with the intention of reducing the number of seats able to be filled in the Parliament to below the 500 required for a government.

Thaksin, who is a member of the Thai Rak Thai party, has promised to stand down from the Prime-Ministerial post if his party gains less than 50% of the vote in the election. Results are expected later today.

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