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Wednesday December 13, 2006

Two Buddhists shot and killed in southern Thailand


BANGKOK, Thailand (AP): Two men were killed Wednesday by suspected Muslim insurgents in southern Thailand who apparently targeted the victims because they were Buddhist, police said. 

The first victim was identified as a 55-year-old rubber tapper, who was shot three times while driving his motorcycle by a gunman on the back of another motor bike, said police Maj. Suthas Noosrikong of Lammai police station in Yala province, where the attack occurred. 

Fifteen minutes later, a gunman pulled up on a motorcycle to the home of a Buddhist man in the same village. The attacker entered the home and fired three times, killing the man, aged 69. 

"We believe that Muslim insurgents are responsible for the death of the two Buddhist men today,'' Suthas said, saying police believed the killings were premeditated. "The attackers mean to scare Buddhists away from the area.'' 

Drive-by shootings and bombings occur almost daily in Thailand's three southernmost Muslim-majority provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, where more than 1,900 people have been killed in an Islamic insurgency that flared in January 2004. 

Police, soldiers and others viewed as collaborators with the government are targeted, along with Buddhists. 

Buddhist monks have been beheaded, Buddhist teachers slain, and leaflets distributed around Buddhist villages warning that raising dogs and drinking alcohol are offensive to Muslims. 

In separate violence, suspected insurgents detonated three small bombs near homes in the Rangae district of Narathiwat province, said police Maj. Chalerm Khongying. There were no reports of injuries.

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