Suspected insurgents shot and killed two men during a roadside ambush Monday in the Thai Deep South province of Pattani, but a defense volunteer survived after he fired back at the attackers, police said.
The ambush occurred at 2 a.m. in Khok Pho district after defense volunteer Ahmad Rori Jehdeng left his security post at a fair at the Ban Klong Chang School, police Capt. Sukwat Chaimanee said
During the ambush, Ahmad Rori’s car collided with a pickup truck that was on its way to the school and its driver was also gunned down, investigators said. A male passenger in Ahmad Rori’s car was also killed.
Ahmad Rori told BenarNews that he returned fire at his assailants, emptying his semi-automatic pistol by unloading 10 shots. He suffered minor injuries, police said, and it was not clear if Ahmad Rori hit any of his assailants.
Before the ambush, Ahmad Rohi said his car was parked outside the school when he noticed a note written in Malay, the language commonly spoken in the Deep South.
The note, according to Ahmad Rohi, said “The pain is from performing your duty.”
“I was not aware that it was a warning,” he told BenarNews as he recalled how he crawled out of his car during the early morning ambush and hid in a dark plantation after firing back at his attackers. He said he yelled at nearby villagers to seek help and police came after 30 minutes.
“I was so sad seeing my dead friend when I returned to the car,” he said. “I know who the assailants are; they are insurgents in the area.”
Hours later, investigators recovered spent shotgun shells and rifle casings from the scene.
Pattani Police bureau chief Maj. Gen. Piyawat Chalermsri said suspected insurgents were behind the ambush. The village headman also blamed insurgents.
“I’m confident that there were at least six insurgents; some from the area, some from other areas who ambushed the defense volunteer. Some stalked him,” Tambon Chief Gunheng Sa-I, told BenarNews.
52 killed, 116 injured this year
Monday’s roadside ambush in Pattani province brought to 52 the number of people killed in at least 98 shootings and bomb attacks in the Deep South since January this year, according to figures compiled by BenarNews from police and military reports. At least 116 people have been injured in those incidents, which were not categorized to specify insurgent-related attacks.
Last week, police killed two suspected insurgents in a shootout that also wounded three officers in Mayo district, Pattani province, according to a village leader and the Internal Security Operations Command Region 4, which oversees the Deep South.
The shootout occurred after three motorcycle-riding suspects opened fire at members of a police patrol, authorities said.
A day earlier, 14 people were injured after small bombs exploded in four locations in Narathiwat province and Pattani, police said.
Close to 7,000 people have died in violence in Thailand’s predominantly Muslim southern border region since an insurgency waged by Malay separatists reignited 14 years ago.
For the past three years, Thailand’s military government has been in Malaysia-brokered peace talks with MARA Patani, an umbrella group that represents various southern rebel groups, but the negotiations have not yet yielded a long-awaited limited ceasefire.