PATTANI, Thailand (AP) “” Suspected Muslim insurgents ambushed a military convoy and beheaded two soldiers in southern Thailand on Friday in the second such attack this month, police said.
More than 20 gunmen armed with automatic rifles ambushed a group of five pairs of soldiers traveling on motorcycles after they finished escorting teachers to school in Yala province, said police Col. Somphien Phuwaphongphitak.
They’ll have to engage in more craven acts than that if they want to be deemed as cowardly as the jihadis next door, in the Philippines, who recently kidnapped a midwife who was helping deliver a baby.
An Islamic separatist insurgency in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat has led to the deaths of more than 3,300 people since early 2004. More than 30 people, both Buddhist and Muslim, have been beheaded since the violence began.
Somphien said a 10-minute gunbattle broke out after the ambush, and the teams of soldiers became separated. Later, the bodies of the two soldiers were found with their heads cut off.
On Feb. 2, suspected insurgents killed two paramilitary troops in Pattani province and cut off the head of one.
As has been the case with virtually all the violence in the south, no one took responsibility for the attacks.
The insurgents target Buddhists and also Muslims who they believe have collaborated with the government [i.e., “apostates”].
The attacks “” which include drive-by shootings and bombings “” are believed intended to frighten Buddhist residents into leaving the only predominantly Muslim areas of Thailand, which is 90 percent Buddhist.
A massive counterinsurgency effort has recently slowed the pace of attacks but has shown little sign of ending the violence.