A suspected insurgent shot dead a defense volunteer and a woman in Pattani town in Thailand’s restive Deep South, while unidentified masked gunmen set fire to trucks and offices after tying up electricity workers in nearby Yala province, police and witnesses said Thursday.
Hundreds of people were shopping on Thursday night at an open-air market next to the Krue Se Mosque, a historic site in Pattani province, when a man pulled out a handgun and opened fire at Ayi Mudo, a 55-year-old defense volunteer, Police Col. Kirati Yusof told reporters.
Two rounds struck Ayi’s head, killing him instantly, Kirati said.
“Stray bullets hit two other women and the gunman took his gun,” Kirati said, adding that the victim was selling ornamental items in the market.
One of the two women was pronounced dead at the Pattani Hospital and the other remained under care, authorities said.
The shooting took place a day after suspected insurgents snatched electricity workers before torching their offices and trucks in Yala’s Kabang district.
Unknown gunmen also opened fire with assault rifles at another regional electricity office in Pattani’s Koke Pho district on Wednesday, authorities said.
There were no reports of injuries, but the gunmen also tried to set fire to the offices, police said.
A Kabang electricity worker, who requested anonymity, said armed men in black clothes snatched and tied him up with other colleagues after he returned to the building from dinner.
“I saw five men wearing balaclavas and dressed in black, all are armed. They tied me and others. After that, they torched the office, taking us behind the office,” the worker told BenarNews.
“They set ablaze two trucks before leaving.”
The gunmen did not harm him or his co-workers, he said.
Police Lt. Gen. Ronasilp Poo-sara inspected the Kabang electricity offices on Thursday and blamed insurgents for the attack.
“I believe the insurgents did this to revenge the arrests and extrajudicial killings of their militant leaders and supporters,” he said.
On Aug. 22, days before the observance of the Eid-ul-Adha holiday, authorities announced the killing of three suspected Deep South militants and the arrest of 10 others in two counter-insurgency operations.
Security forces also thwarted plots to disrupt the Islamic holiday, officials said, citing intelligence reports.
A separatist insurgency has wracked Thailand’s predominantly Muslim and Malay-speaking southern border region known as the Deep South for decades. Nearly 7,000 people have been killed in violence throughout the region since the insurgency re-ignited in 2004.
The Deep South encompasses Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat provinces, as well as four districts of Songkhla province.
The region was relatively peaceful during Ramadan. But since the holy month ended more than two months ago, at least 31 attacks carried out by insurgents have killed 22 people and injured another 29 across the region, according to official figures compiled by BenarNews from police and military reports.