Three killed in southern Thai attacks

The head of a Muslim village was among three people killed in the latest attacks in violence-plagued southern Thailand.

    Since January 2004, more than 800 have died in the conflict

    Two people were reported killed on Saturday, including village defence volunteer Anont Boonmatakrut, 51, who was shot and killed by unknown attackers in Waeng district of Narathiwat province as he travelled with his wife on a motorcycle.

    "The motive of the killing is still under investigation," police said in a report, although it fits the pattern of killings by motorcycle gunmen that have become the hallmark of the unrest in the Muslim-majority deep south.
    Prasert In-me, 36, an employee of the Pattani province irrigation department, was also shot and killed early on Saturday in Sai Buri district while on his way to work, police there said.

    Hundreds dead

    Village headman Yusoh Meesa, 41, was killed by motorcycle gunmen on Friday evening in Pattani's Thung Yang Daeng district, while a companion, Jaeteh Samae, was also shot and remained in hospital in critical condition.

    "Police have established two possible motives for the shootings, either personal conflict or part of the unrest campaign," case officer Colonel Nukul Thanirat told AFP of the Friday incident.

    Another deputy village headman had been shot dead earlier on Friday in Pattani province, which, along with Narathiwat and Yala provinces, is battling near-daily attacks that authorities and analysts have blamed on a mix of Muslim separatists, organised criminals and narco-traffickers.

    More than 820 people have died in the violence since January 2004, including nearly 200 killed by security forces in two controversial operations last year.

    In an effort to contain the increasing unrest, Thailand's cabinet on Tuesday imposed a state of emergency across the three provinces bordering Malaysia.



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