Three Muslims Shot Dead in Thai South
Gunmen shot and killed three Muslims as they left a mosque after evening prayers in Thailand's insurgency-plagued south, police said Thursday, amid an apparent spike in bloodshed in the region.
Two men and a woman died when attackers opened fire on the Banna Praow mosque in Pattani, one of three southern provinces that have been rocked by eight years of violence, on Wednesday night.
"They were still inside the walls of the mosque when they were shot after evening prayers. We do not know the motive yet," said local police officer Lieutenant Parinya Kwankaew.
More than 5,100 people have been killed -- both Muslims and Buddhists -- in attacks across Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat since unrest escalated in January 2004, according to Deep South Watch which monitors the violence.
A series of devastating bomb blasts in two southern cities at the end of March killed 15 people and wounded hundreds more in the deadliest attacks in the region in recent years. Police have since arrested four suspects.
Those attacks marked an apparent escalation of a shadowy insurgency, without clearly stated aims, that has involved near-daily bomb or gun attacks, targeting both soldiers and civilians.
A state of emergency is in force in the worst-affected parts of the region, which rights campaigners say in effect gives the tens of thousands of military troops based in the area legal immunity and fuels rights abuses.