Suspected Muslim insurgents detonated a car bomb outside a crowded open-air restaurant during lunchtime Wednesday, wounding 26 people, security officials said.
The restaurant in the city of Narathiwat was packed with civil servants and civilians when the 110-pound (50-kilogram) bomb exploded, said army spokesman Col. Parinya Chaidilok.
He said the bomb was hidden in a pickup truck outside the restaurant and triggered by a mobile phone.
"The suspect parked the truck and fled in a motorcycle waiting on the other side of the road," he said. "The blast occurred a few minutes after that."
The explosion damaged two cars and three motorcycles parked nearby, Parinya said.
Of those wounded, fifteen suffered minor injuries, said Police Lt. Col. Somchai Panomuppakan.
More than 3,700 people have been killed in Thailand's three southernmost provinces _ Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala _ since an Islamist insurgency flared in January 2004. The provinces are the only Muslim-majority areas in the Buddhist-dominated country. Muslims in the area have long complained of discrimination by the central government.
A massive security presence has failed to stop the violence, which has killed both Muslims and Buddhists. The militants target people working with the government, including soldiers, police and informants. They also stage attacks on civilians that are believed to be intended to scare the Buddhist community into fleeing.
The insurgents have made no public pronouncements but are thought to be fighting for an independent Muslim state. The area used to be an Islamic sultanate until it was annexed by Thailand in the early 20th century.