And 61-year-old salesmen. Such intrepid mujahedin! “Suspected Muslim separatists kill four in Thailand’s deep South,” from Deutsche Presse Agentur, March 11 (thanks to Twostellas):
Pattani, Thailand – Suspected Muslim separatists on Thursday shot dead three Thai telephone repairmen and a 61-year-old salesman in two incidents in the violence-racked southern province of Pattani, officials said. Assailants on a motorcycle attacked a pickup belonging to the TT&T telephone company, forcing it off the road into an ambush in the Yarang district, Colonel Banpot Punpian said.
“The assailants sprayed the pickup with bullets and then set fire to it, killing three men,” he said. One of the TT&T employees managed to escape, he said.
Meanwhile, also in Yarang, unknown assailants shot dead Buddhist Vun Ounjai, 61, a broom salesman.
They were the latest casualties in a six-year conflict in Thailand’s so-called Deep South, comprising Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala provinces.
An estimated 4,000 people have died in clashes, bombings, revenge killings and beheadings in the troubled region, which borders Malaysia.
The insurgents, an amorphous group of Muslim militants fighting for greater autonomy or independence from the predominantly Buddhist state, have adopted eye-for-an-eye tactics to avenge any show of force by the authorities.
Of the 300,000 Thai Buddhists who lived in the region, about 70,000 have left since separatists raided an army depot in January 2004, killing four soldiers and making off with 300 weapons, triggering an escalation of the conflict.
The incident sparked a series of brutal government crackdowns, which turned many of the area’s 2 million people, 80 per cent of whom are Muslim, against the central government.
Although the region, which centuries ago was the independent Islamic sultanate of Pattani, was conquered by Bangkok about 200 years ago, it has never wholly submitted to Thai rule.
Analysts said the region’s Muslim population, the majority of whom speak a Malay dialect and follow Malay customs, feels alienated from the predominantly Buddhist Thai state.
Why not just start an emo rock band?