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MUSLIMS HELD AFTER RIOT RELEASED FROM CUSTODY

More than 1,100 Muslims detained after a riot were freed Saturday, as the government tried to ease anger in Thailand's restive south over the deaths of dozens of accused rioters, including 78 who perished in military custody.

The army also lifted a curfew imposed in parts of Narathiwat, the province where thousands of Muslim youths besieged a police station Monday to demand the release of six men they believed were unjustly accused of giving arms to Islamic separatists.

The 78 Muslim detainees suffocated or were crushed to death when security forces piled them into military trucks along with more than 1,200 others. At least seven others died during the riot, apparently shot by security forces.

In a nationally televised address Friday night, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra promised an independent investigation into the deaths.

He acknowledged that the detainees who died had been stacked on top of each other and said he regretted the deaths.

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