PATTANI – Four people, including a Buddhist monk and a young boy, were killed and six others were injured in an attack in Thailand’s violence-plagued south on Thursday, Thai police said.
He said a 68-year-old monk, one woman and her 13-year-old son, and another woman were killed in the Thursday morning attack.
Sathit said six others, including a police officer in a squad protecting the monk, were wounded.
Police said they were looking for the gunmen who fled on two motorcycles.
It is the second time in three weeks a Buddhist monk has been shot dead by suspected insurgents.
Police Col. Sathit Polpinit said that four gunmen opened fire at a group of villagers giving alms to a Buddhist monk in Mae Lan district in Pattani province.
Polpinit said the attacks were in revenge for the deaths of three Muslim brothers aged three, five and nine, who were gunned down in front of their home in neighbouring Narathiwat province.
The boy’s deaths had set off “a chain reaction”, said Srisompob Jitpiromsri of the Deep South Watch think-tank.
Thailand is a mainly Buddhist country, but the three southern provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat are majority-Muslim and resistance to central government rule has existed there for decades, resurfacing violently in 2004.
“Emotions in the local community are running high, on both sides, and the insurgent movement has taken their deaths as an opportunity for revenge,” he said.
“It will be difficult for the authorities to control the violence unless they can bring the boys’ killers to justice.”