NARATHIWAT – Four villagers were shot dead in Thailand’s south in another case of violence in the insurgency-wracked region, Pol Maj Gen Manas Siksamat, police chief of Narathiwat province, said.
Police Maj. Gen. Manas Siksamat, police chief of Narathiwat province, said the killings happened Thursday while the victims were gold panning at a river running through a rubber plantation.
They were identified as Muyaso Bado, 49, of Sukhirin district; his two sons Hilmee Bado, 23, and Muhamad Hadis Bado, 16; and his son-in-law Marosatee Por, 36.
“Their bodies were riddled with M16 bullets”
They had been shot by “war weapons”, Pol Maj Gen Manus said, using a phrase M16 that covers the assault rifles commonly used by militants and security services in the area.
“We don’t yet know the exact motive, but they may have been shot by hardliner militants… or by a rival group of gold panners,” he told the Bangkok Post.
The area is a transit point for drugs and other contraband to and from Malaysia and provides a hideout for shadowy rebels and crime gangs.
Thailand’s three southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani have been plagued by a Muslim separatist insurgency that has claimed the lives of more than 6,500 people since the violence escalated in 2004.
The majority of the victims have been civilians, including Muslim and Buddhist villagers, teachers and state officials, caught up in tit-for-tat violence between the rebels and security forces.
Source: The Associated Press, Bangkok Post