BANGKOK: A Buddhist man beheaded in southern Thailand was among four people killed in a recent spike in violence blamed on Islamic insurgents there, police said yesterday.
The killing follows a bomb blast early yesterday that wounded three policemen and the gunning down on Sunday of three other people, including a former village head and a civil servant.
The decapitated body of Boonjan Saiphet, a 59-year-old plantation worker, was found in a fruit orchard in the Yaha district of Yala province. His head was found along a nearby roadside, Major Suthas Nookhong said.
A computer-printed note in red ink reading: You arrested innocent people, so I kill innocent people, was found on his body, Major Suthas said.
More than 690 people have been killed since January last year when a bloody attack on a military base triggered a violent uprising in Thailand's three southernmost provinces. Authorities have blamed separatist insurgents, organised crime and contraband smugglers for the violence.
The attacks originally targeted military and the police, but are now random and have claimed both Muslim and Buddhist civilians.
Yesterday's bombing in Narathiwat province targeted a park in the town of Sungai Golok, near an area popular with government officials and villagers for morning exercises.
The bomb was hidden inside a parked motorcycle, and was probably triggered by mobile phone, police said. They had no information on the condition of the three officers.
On Sunday, two gunmen on motorcycle shot dead a former village headman in Pattani's Yarang district as he was going to a teashop, police said.
In a separate incident, two more gunmen stormed into a shop in Sungai Padi district in Narathiwat and killed Waesama-ae Useng, the chairman of the Toh Deng Tombon local government council. Useng's brother, Waehama, was also killed.
The shootings are under investigation, and could be linked to the insurgency, police said.
Untangling the motives be-hind killings in the mostly Muslim provinces along the Malaysian border has proved complex, as organised crime and smuggling rings use the unrest to cover their own activities.
Thai officials again sought to allay fears that the unrest could be linked to international Islamic extremists, insisting that the problem was entirely domestic, after Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra met with visiting US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday.
The unrest was not terrorism, just our domestic problem, Thai Defence Minister Thammarak Issarangkura Na Ayutthaya said.
The latest killings came as a team from the world's largest Muslim group, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, was visiting the area to assess the violence there. AFP
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