At least one soldier and two defense volunteers were killed, and three others injured, during a Tuesday night attack by suspected insurgents on a village security post in Thailand’s Deep South, authorities said.
The assailants threw grenades and fired at the security personnel during the attack targeting a Tambon Defense Force post in Muang Pattani, a district of Pattani province, officials said. A tambon is a local government unit that encompasses a cluster of villages, with armed locals volunteering to help the Thai military and police defend the villages.
Yannapong Ubonban, the district’s police chief, said the attack occurred before 9 p.m. and resulted in a gun battle. Following the attack, police discovered the three bodies along with the three injured volunteers.
“An unknown group of assailants rode motorcycles to the area and threw grenades and fired guns in the attack,” Yannapong said, adding that authorities were searching for the suspects believed to be local insurgents. “They then poured fuel in an attempt to burn two of the injured volunteers, setting off a long gun battle before the assailants fled.”
In addition to the gun battle, the assailants also spread nails and burned tires on the route leading from Pattani to neighboring Yala province.
Also on Tuesday night, police in Yala’s Krong Pinang district reported that a gunman shot and killed the son of a village headman.
The mainly Muslim and Malay-speaking Deep South has suffered from a separatist insurgent uprising that has left about 7,000 dead since 2004. Including Tuesday’s three deaths, at least four have been killed by bombs and 25 others injured in the last month.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, Thai military doctors reported that the brain of Abdullah Esomuso, a 34-year-old suspected insurgent, was unresponsive after he fell into a coma and was hospitalized. He was found unconscious on Sunday after being brought for interrogation at an army camp in Pattani province several hours earlier.
“The patient arrived at the hospital without consciousness but had a stable pulse with high-dose heart stimulants. … The next morning, we reduced heart and pressure stimulants though his brain is still unresponsive,” physician Suphak Phulsawat said. “After that, the patient was transferred to Songklanagarind hospital.”
The army has established fact-finding committees to investigate what caused Abdullah to slip into a coma. Pramote Prom-in, a spokesman for the military’s regional command, said the army would seek to conclude its investigation quickly.
“We have established new independent committees consisting of civil society groups, human rights committee and various sectors acceptable by society to conduct the probe,” he said.
“We have established two committees, one to investigate the conduct of the military to determine potential disciplinary or criminal action, and one to investigate possible violations of the protection of human rights in the Deep Southern provinces,” he said.