Two Muslims shot dead at prayers in Thai south mosque

Reuters , Friday 16 Sep 2011

Two shot dead in south Thailand as suspected separatists attack a mosque during Friday prayers, as regional disputes between ethnic disputes continue

Suspected insurgents walked into a packed mosque and shot dead two Muslims in a brazen attack during Friday prayers in Thailand's rebellious deep south, police said.

The victims were a police officer and a defence volunteer and nearly 100 people witnessed the killings in Yala province by four Muslims believed to be separatists.
Ethnic Malay Muslims form the majority of the population in Thailand's three southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, where an insurgency has claimed nearly 4,800 lives since 2006.

The main targets for the shadowy militants are members of the security forces, teachers and government officials, but Muslims are often killed for working for the Thai state or acting as informants.

The region was an independent sultanate a century ago before it became part of mostly Buddhist Thailand.

Shootings in mosques have happened several times in the three provinces.

In June 2009, 11 Muslims were killed at prayer at the Al-Furqan mosque in Narathiwat. Many Muslims and rights groups believed that attack was carried out by Buddhist vigilantes. No one has been charged with the killings.

Friday's killings in Yala came a day after five paramilitary rangers were shot dead in an ambush in Pattani province after the pickup truck they were riding in was hit by a bomb.

The rubber-rich region borders Malaysia and is just a few hours by car from some of Thailand's best-known tourist beaches such as Krabi and Phuket. However, the near-daily shootings and bombings have been concentrated in the three provinces and neighbouring Songkhla.

Short link: