Updated at 4:38 p.m. ET 2019-11-01
Thai security officers said they killed two suspected insurgents after they allegedly refused to stop their motorcycle at a checkpoint in Thailand’s Deep South early Friday and started shooting after a car bombing in a neighboring district.
The shootout occurred after midnight on a street in Balo, a village in Pattani province’s Sai Buri district, authorities said as they described the first deadly incident since Oct. 9 related to the region’s separatist insurgency.
The two men on the motorbike were suspects in a car bombing attack earlier that targeted a police station in Mai Kaen, another district in Pattani, officials said. The explosion did not injure anyone, but officials dispatched security forces to intercept the suspects.
“When they approached the checkpoint, officials intermittently flashed a light signaling to them to stop, but they turned the motorcycle away and shot back, causing officials to return fire, resulting in their deaths,” said Col. Montree Kongwatmai, the chief of the Sai Buri police station.
The slain suspects were identified as Amran Beraheng, 38, and Lukman Saleh, 34, natives of Pattani, who had criminal records related to the rebellion in the southern border region, according to officials.
“Amran Beraheng, the rider, was an insurgent active in the area and Lukman Saleh was also an insurgent operative. We found a 9-mm pistol with spent casings and unused ammo,” Col. Pramote Prom-in, a spokesman for Internal Security Operations Command-4, the military’s regional command, told reporters.
Intelligence records showed that the pair had links with insurgents, but authorities lacked solid evidence to make any other arrests, he said.
The killings of the two brought to at least 80 the death toll in violence connected to the southern insurgency so far this year, according to information compiled by BenarNews from police and military reports. One hundred and thirty-two people have been injured in more than 80 violent incidents.
The Thai Deep South borders Malaysia and encompasses Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala provinces as well as four districts in neighboring Songkhla. Nearly 7,000 people have been killed in the mainly Muslim and Malay-speaking region since the separatist insurgency reignited 15 years ago.