Some 300 Buddhist and Muslim residents of Yala’s Maung district in the Deep South of Thailand joined with government officials on Monday to pray for peace and denounce violence one day after a bomb hidden in a grave killed a paramilitary ranger.
Ranger Sai Jaedomoh, 38, had joined his father, Aceh Jaedomoh, 63, to pray for the ranger’s mother, who died Friday and was buried the same day at Baan Bo Jed Luk mosque’s cemetery.
“We just finished chanting the Quran and the bomb went off,” Aceh Jaedomoh told BenarNews Monday.
Sai, a member of the 43rd Paramilitary Task Force, was killed instantly.
“My son was at the grave 10 meters away from me. I was sent flying and fell down four meters away. I called Allah’s name three times and my son’s name three times,” he told BenarNews.
“When folks came to my help, I told them to help carry me to check my son, but he had died.”
Paramilitary forces are local units armed and trained by the Thai military to defend their communities. An armed insurgency has plagued the Deep South region for more than ten years and claimed more than 6,000 lives.
Out of place
Aceh Jaedomoh said his daughter saw dirt out of place around her mother’s tomb on Saturday, so she bought a shovel to clean up around the grave on Sunday.
“Someone planted a bomb at the tomb of Sai’s mother’s grave and remotely triggered the bomb,” he told Benar News.
He blamed Muslims for the attack, but didn’t say why.
“I never thought Muslims would choose a sacred place like a cemetery to perpetuate violence. I believe they have no religion. It is impossible the bomb was carried out by Buddhists, it must have been by Muslims,” Aceh said.
Sai Jaedomoh’s widow Sunsani, a 40-year-old mother of four, said she heard an explosion but thought it was from an intersection nearby, not from where her husband was praying.
“I was shocked, trying to compose myself,” she said. “I then rushed to the scene to see my husband’s body.”
She said she now has to find a job to raise her four children, ages 3 to 19.
Her 10-year-old daughter, Thanchanok, said she would follow her father’s dreams for her.
“I love my father. I will be a good person and I will study dentistry as my dad wanted me,” she said.
The residents who gathered for prayer on Monday flew a banner that read, “Yala people love each other. Different thoughts are welcome, but not violence.”
Clerics led prayers. Also present was Col. Terdsak Ngamsanong, deputy commander of the Yala Task Force.
“Thank everyone for mourning the dead and condolences to the family. And thank you for denouncing violence,” he told the crowd.
“We are not here to fight anyone, we have no foes. We are here to protect people. The late paramilitary ranger was also here to perform his duty of protecting people.”