The three men were returning from a mosque in Ban Ladoo village of Sa-eh sub-district in Krong Pinang. Authorities believe at least 10 gunmen attacked them from a roadside ambush at a rubber plantation when their white Isuzu pickup truck passed by about 10.50pm.
The dead were identified as Pol Lt Col Adinant Ismaael, the deputy chief of the Krong Pinang station, Pol Sub Lt Danupol Asae and Pol L/C Hama Sarado.
Other police patrolling nearby rushed to the scene in time to exchange gunfire with the ambushers and drive them off after a 10-minute firefight. Blood trails indicated one or more of the attackers were wounded.
But the three officers were all killed in the pickup truck, which ran into the ditch after it was hit with numerous shot. A villager, Abdulloh Japakiya, was injured by the gunfire, and was sent to Yala Hospital.
Police said they believed the gunmen wanted to show they could create violence during the fasting month of Ramadan.