About 50 Thai air force planes have dropped millions of paper birds over three Muslim-dominated southern provinces as a gesture of peace.

Encouraged by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Thais across the country have been folding the Japanese-style origami birds for the past two weeks.

The government says about 120 million birds were dropped today (Sunday) as symbols of peace and to honor Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadeg on his 77th birthday.

One bird, folded and signed by Mr. Thaksin, promises a scholarship if found by a child, and a job if the finder is an adult.

The airdrop was meant to sow (spread) peace and goodwill in the three southernmost provinces, where hundreds have been killed in an Islamic insurgency that began in January .