9 Thai Air Force, 1 Army personnel killed in helicopter crash

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Bangkok, Aug 6 (UNI) Nine Thai Air Force and an Army official were killed when the helicopter in which they were travelling crash landed this morning in the country's southern border province of Yala.

Thai Army spokesman Colonel Akara Thiproj said the accident took place in Sunat Tanon village in Betong district in Yala at about 1140 hrs (local time).

The crash is the second in two months in the region where an over four-year-old separatist insurgency has claimed more than 3,000 lives.

Defence officials are still ascertaining the cause of the crash.

Authorities blamed engine malfunction for the previous helicopter crash, also in Yala in June, in which 10 of the 13 people on board died.

Thailand maintains a heavy military presence in its three Muslim-majority provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani bordering Malaysia where suspected Islamic militants have spread a reign of terror.

UNI XC SKB BD1545

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