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Insurgents suspected in killing of three rubber plantation workers in southern Thailand

Insurgents suspected in killing of three rubber plantation workers in southern Thailand

Suspected Muslim insurgents shot and killed three laborers Monday morning in the Thai province of Songkhla, raising concern that violence may be spreading from the country's three southernmost, Muslim-dominated provinces.
The victims, all Buddhists, were on their way to work at a rubber plantation when they were ambushed by a group of assailants who opened fire on them with shotguns and pistols, said police Col. Thammasak Wasasiri.
Another man was badly wounded in the attack, he said. The attack was under investigation.
"Initial investigations showed that it was an attack by Muslim insurgents," Thammasak said. The attack took place in Sabayoi, a predominantly Muslim district, next to Pattani province, which along with Yala and Narathiwat provinces has been the scene of an Islamic insurgency that has led to more than 1,900 deaths in the past three years.
The insurgency takes advantage of long-standing sentiment among southern Muslims that they are treated like second-class citizens in Buddhist-dominated Thailand. Attacks on civilians and officials in the three restive provinces close to Songkhla are seen as a move to drive out Buddhists from the area.
"Sabayoi has become one of the red zones where the insurgency movement have become active in recent months," Thammasak said. Songkhla has seen an occasional spillover of violence, but nothing like the almost daily bombings and shootings that plague its neighboring provinces.
In Pattani, a group of 70 veiled women along with their children gathered Monday in front of a police station in Nong Chik district to demand the release of Manadee Samah, a suspected Muslim insurgent who was arrested Sunday. There was no violence reported, but such confrontations usually contribute to tensions in the area, and sometimes escalate.
On a Saturday visit to southern Thailand, Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont restated his hopes for a peaceful solution to the conflict. When he took over as interim prime minister after a coup last September, he said that restoring peace in the south would be one of his administration's priorities.
He said that Indonesia and Malaysia, Southeast Asia's main Muslim-dominated countries, will join hands with the Thai government in developing the three troubled southern provinces based on Islamic principles.


Updated : 2021-05-19 09:47 GMT+08:00