Gunmen in Thailand’s deep south shot dead two Buddhist monks and wounded two others inside a temple.
Black-clad assailants carrying rifles crept into Rattanaupap temple in Narathiwat province near Malaysia’s border on Friday evening and started firing. “The attack took place around 7:30 p.m. when an unknown number of gunmen dressed in black entered the temple through a rear area via a creek. Two monks were shot dead at the temple while two others were wounded” local superintendant Pakdi Preechachon told AFP.
Since 2004 clashes between ethnic Malay-Muslim rebels and the Buddhist-majority Thai state that annexed the region a century ago have killed nearly 7,000 people, mostly civilians of both faiths. The death toll in the south dropped to a record low last year as Thailand’s junta tightened its security web but violence has boiled over in recent days, raising concerns about soft targets at schools and religious institutions.
In the past, Buddhist monks have been targeted only infrequently. But they have been told to suspend morning alms collection starting from Saturday in three southern provinces and the southern army commander has instructed security officials to step up safeguards of Islamic leaders who could also be at risk.