Six people were shot and killed during the past two days in Thailand’s insurgency-stricken Deep South, police said Monday.
Police could not say whether separatist rebels were behind the latest attacks. The killings of two people on Sunday and four more on Monday brought to 14 the number of locals who have died in violence in the predominantly Muslim southern border region since the holy month of Ramadan began May 27.
Monday’s four victims were shot in three separate attacks in Pattani and Narathiwat provinces.
The first incident took place in Thung Yang Daeng, a district of Pattani where assailants shot and killed a motorcyclist and a passer-by, according to police.
“Unknown assailants shot defense volunteer Ismail Hama dead right there, taking his gun. A civilian named Lateh Jae-wae, 65, was hit by a stray bullet,” police Capt. Pallop Promkaew, the deputy chief investigator for Thung Yang Daeng police station, told reporters.
Defense volunteers receive a monthly stipend and are trained by local military units. They function more or less as part of a neighborhood watch scheme.
The second attack killed Abdullah Se, an assistant village chief in Tambon (sub-district) Krasoh in Pattani’s Mayo district, according to police Capt. Muhamad Mudwang.
“Abdullah was shot while resting at his home in Mayo district. Based on initial investigation, unknown perpetrators shot him with handguns. We are investigating the motive behind the attack,” he told BenarNews.
Later, Bakri Na-ing, a native of Narathiwat’s Tak Bai district, was killed at his home, Tak Bai police said.
“Bakri Na-ing was shot dead with a 9-mm pistol by assailants while he was resting at home, according to witnesses and the initial inspection,” said police Capt. Niwa-aming Wateh, an investigator for the Tak Bai station.
On Sunday, a defense volunteer in Pattani’s Yaring district, Panupong Chumanee, was shot and killed and his gun stolen, according to police Capt. Narawit Rachkijyothin, an investigator for the local station.
Another attack in the same district resulted in the death of Asman Buwan, 30. Ibrahim Maming, 38, suffered a leg injury, according to another investigator in Yaring.
Police have not determined a motive for any of the attacks over the last two days.
Ramadan death toll
Since local Muslims began observing the Ramadan fast, 14 people have been killed and 11 other in bomb and gun attacks across the Deep South, said officials with the regional branch of the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC).
Four days before Ramadan started, two soldiers were killed in a bomb attack.
Lt. Gen. Piyawat Nakwanich, commander of the Fourth Army Region, which oversees the Deep South, said insurgents disrupt Ramadan each year.
“They wrongly believe they are doing good deeds by mounting attacks during Ramadan,” Piyawat told BenarNews.
On June 2, seven soldiers were injured in two bomb blasts in Narathiwat. Piyawat called on imams to teach the assailants right from wrong
“Religious leaders should tell them to not disrupt Ramadan because it is the holy month and it should be violence-free,” Piyawat said at the time.
Nearly 7,000 people have been killed in violence associated with the insurgency in the Malay-speaking region, since the conflict re-ignited 13 years ago.