02/25/2013, 00.00
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Bomb attack on Buddhist Festival, four dead and 50 injured

The people had gathered for the traditional feast of the full moon, when a grenade exploded in the crowd, killing two policemen and two civilians. Likely target of a member of a rival gang, active in the province of Maha Sarakham. Seperatist or Islamist involvement excluded.

Bangkok (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At least four people were killed and dozens injured in a grenade attack on a concert organized for a Buddhist religious festival, this morning in the district of Nadoon, province of Maha Sarakham, in the northeast of Thailand. From the first, fragmentary reports, it seems the attack was sparked by a quarrel between the author of the bombing and another person present at the celebrations.  The root cause of the tension it would seem is local gang at rivalry.  So far police have excluded the involvement of Islamic or separatist militants responsible in the recent past for attacks and violence, especially in the south of the country, on the border with Malaysia.

The attack took place during a concert of traditional music in a pagoda, at the Buddhist festival of Makha Bhucha which recalls the teachings of the enlightened one on the day of the full moon. The police chief Kritchai Saruamsri reports that some agents noticed a man, 31 year old Jed Winai-ngam, carrying a M67 grenade from which the safety had been removed. The officers tried to stop him, but before succeeding he threw the bomb that hit the ground and exploded.

The blast killed four people, including two policemen and two civilians, attending the concert of the popular band Ponglang Sa-orn. There were at least 50 wounded, but toll is only partial. The author of the attack is also believed to be among the wounded as well as one of the members of the band. Police have launched an investigation and according to preliminary information, are linking it to ongoing local gang rivalry, rather than religious or confessional tensions.

In Thailand, about 85% of the population is Buddhist. The southern provinces of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani have a clear Muslim majority and were once a independent Malaysian sultanate. The current tensions started in 2004 because of a separatist rebellion in the Muslim-majority regions. In six years more than 4300 people have been killed in attacks and summary murders. In the long series of deaths, the most common targets of Malay Islamists are the police and teachers; the Muslims claim state schools are attempting to impose Buddhist culture and since 2008, 153 teachers have been killed.


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