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Thailand to ban metal cooking gas tanks in south over bomb fears

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HAT YAI, Thailand — Security officials in insurgency-wracked southern Thailand plan to ban the use of metal cooking gas tanks because they are often used to make homemade bombs.

Police Capt. Kritapas Kruenet said Wednesday that they will be replaced with polymer and fiberglass cylinders that can also be used as bombs but cause much less damage.

The military's Internal Security Operations Command announced Monday that all metal gas containers must be replaced by Sept. 30 next year in the three southernmost provinces where an Islamic separatist insurgency has flared since 2004.

The use of homemade bombs, drive-by shootings and ambushes are common rebel tactics.

More than 5,000 people have been killed since 2004 in the three provinces, the only ones with Muslim majorities in Buddhist-dominated Thailand.

Last month a Buddhist monk and a policeman were killed and six other people were wounded in a bomb attack by suspected insurgents in Pattani, one of the provinces. Another monk died this week from his wounds.

The incident caused the army to advise monks in high-risk zones to accept alms from their followers at well-guarded temples rather than going on their traditional morning walks to accept donations of food from people.

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