The Bangkok Post reports:

Southern militants ambushed a teachers’ protection team in Narathiwat province on Monday morning, killing eight soldiers in a fierce firefight and beheading one.

The squad was surprised by an unknown number of insurgents in Chanae district of Narathiwat, spokesman Col Akara Thiprote said.

The army gave few details in its first announcement. Spokesmen said there was an intense, 30-minute exchange of gunfire with militants, who were positioned to cause the maximum casualties in the ambush.

The ambush of the teachers’ protection squad resulted in the highest military casualties in a single attack this year – and was one of the worst ever.

It was the 37th recorded beheading by southern militants since the resurgence of the separatist movement four years ago.

"This is a big loss for the army," Col Akara said. "It is one of our worst days. We will do our utmost to hunt down the killers."

The fighters who ambushed the patrol were likely to be living locally in the tight-knit Muslim communities in the area, making it tricky for security forces to identify them, he added.

"We really need some good intelligence to guide us," the spokesman said. "These people will bury their guns and turn into ordinary villagers before we reach them. It is not easy."

The patrol had been returning to base after escorting teachers to a government school.

COMMENT: I will tell you what the Thai newspapers are saying about it, but really they are almost ignoring it. I am sure we will have stories tomorrow, but Thai Rath have a miniscule article with a photo. Nothing easily accessible on Manager or Matichon although both have plenty other news for the day. On the Thai TV news I watched it was relegated as well. Compare that to the BBC Connect Asia TV program where it was the lead story. A photo is below from the Kom Chad Luek website:

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Source: Kom Chad Luek

Reuters reports:

The ambush occurred near a village in Narathiwat province. A military Humvee was blown up by a 20-kg (44-lb) roadside bomb, then at least 20 militants attacked, police said.

"The head of one of the dead soldiers was found next to the upside-down Humvee and the faces and bodies of others were hit with so much shrapnel and bullets that they can’t be recognised," a local journalist who visited the scene said.

The militants walked away with eight M-16 rifles and an M-60 machinegun, an army statement said.

Bomb squads defused a second roadside bomb meant to hit officials rushing to the scene, police said.

COMMENT: So it least it was some type of military vehicle. I wonder if those Ukranian vehicles will be any better.

btw, last year, another 7 soldiers in May 2007 and at least a dozen paramilitary troopers in Bannang Sata District in May 2007