HAT YAI – Maela Tolu a 24 year old Muslim Thai marine has been abducted and killed in the Thailand’s deep south in a revenge attack by militants behind a botched raid on a military base, police say.
Maela Tolu was snatched from his home by eight gunmen on Monday evening, his wife told police in Narathiwat, one of several insurgency-plagued provinces near the Malaysian border.
Authorities found his body near a mosque in Batu village of tambon Bacho of Bacho district in Narathiwat at 8.30pm last night.
Security officials said his head and body were riddled with bullet holes but there were no signs he had been tortured.
Witnesses saw insurgents kick the body out of a pickup truck.
Police said the white wire cable used to tie the victim’s hands was the same as that found on the bodies of militants killed in an unusually brazen attack in February that saw scores of heavily-armed gunmen storm the Narathiwat base.
Marines, who had been tipped off in advance, repulsed that assault and killed 16 rebel fighters.
“Based on the wire we found, we’re convinced that the same group of militants who raided the base are responsible for it (the killing),” according to Colonel Krisada Kaewjandee, Narathiwat’s deputy provincial police commander.
Southern army spokesman Colonel Pramote Promin also said the rare kidnapping could have been linked to the failed base raid.
More than 5500 people have been killed in nine years of bloodshed in Thailand’s Muslim-majority south, with shadowy insurgent groups blamed for near-daily bombings and shootings.
Security personnel and those connected with the government are regularly targeted, as well as Muslims perceived to be collaborating with the authorities.
Thailand held its first formal peace talks with southern insurgents last week, with a one-day meeting with representatives of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur.