YALA – Five men were shot dead on early Monday in Thailand’s Muslim-majority south, police said, as violence in the troubled region surges towards the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
The bodies, with bullet wounds to the head, were found outside a house in Bannang Sata district of Yala province.
“We believe the shooting was a result of a dispute over underground business,” Lieutenant Colonel Akepong Waedang told AFP, without elaborating.
Akepong said two of the victims lived in the property while the other three were neighbours.
A shadowy conflict in the country’s southern provinces has killed some 7,000 people since 2004 as militants seek more autonomy from Bangkok in the culturally distinct region.
Civilians have borne the brunt of the violence over the years.
But the ethnically Malay region is also a transit point for illicit trade and provides a hideout for both rebels and crime gangs in an area awash with weapons.
Last Thursday four members of a Muslim family were killed while panning for gold in Narathiwat province.
On Friday evening unidentified gunmen shot the deputy president of an Islamic committee in Yala as he left prayers. He died from his wounds two days later.
No arrests have been made.
While attacks often rise during Ramadan, they are more aimed at security forces. The holy month started in Thailand on May 17 and ends later this week.
Conflict monitor Deep South said there were 110 violent incidents in May compared to 36 in April.