It is the deadliest violence to hit the region for several years and the aftermath was witnessed by Channel 4 News Asia Correspondent John Sparks.
Dozens of insurgents, armed with assault rifles and wearing military uniforms and bullet-proof vests, stormed the naval base in the Bacho district of Narathiwat province in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The Thai military, who had been tipped off by locals before the attack, escaped unscathed. Among the dead were two rebel leaders wanted for killing teachers.
Thai military says 16 Muslim insurgents killed in Narathiwat Province, S Thailand. Big battle, largest insurgent death toll in years. Cont..
Dozens fled the scene in trucks after the failed attack, some of them seriously injured.
Military sources said militants blocked road with trees and planted bombs to stop soldiers from reaching the base.
Near the base, soldiers found an abandoned truck riddled with bullet holes. Inside the truck were eight bags filled with pistols and grenades.
Narathiwat is one of three southern provinces in Thailand that have been plagued by unrest in recent years. More than 5,000 people have been killed since an insurgency reignited in the Muslim-majority region in 2004.
Insurgents have used roadside bombs and carried out drive-by shootings.
Thai Navy telling us 100 or more insurgents from multiple districts attacked Navy post – military had tip off. Senior insurgent wearing ….