02/13/2014, 00.00
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Islamist raid in southern Thailand: five dead and six wounded

A Buddhist monk, the target of the attack, and a nine year old boy among victims. Last night a 29 year old woman was killed and her body burned. Assault sparked by murder of three little brothers, all Muslim, last week. Rebels announce new attacks. The political crisis in Bangkok has blocked peace talks between the government and Islamists.

Bangkok ( AsiaNews / Agencies) - Five people were killed, including a Buddhist monk and a child of nine years of age, and at least six injured in two separate attacks that took place in the south of Thailand.  The region has long been the scene of a separatist Islamist insurgency. Police sources report that both attacks were motivated by the violent murder last week of three young Muslim brothers.

Local witnesses report that this morning four armed men on board motorcycles, opened fire against a monk as he was collecting offers. The attack took place in the district of Mae Lan , in the southern province of Pattani. The bullets struck and killed the priest and three other people present at the scene, including a child. The wounded include a law enforcement officer, who was escorting the monk.

In the second incident, yesterday evening in the district of Yaring , again in Pattani , a Buddhist woman of 29 years of age was killed. The woman was on board of her motorbike on her way home when she was hit by a barrage of bullets, after killing her, the assailants set fire to her corpse. They also left a note on the crime scene addressed "to the head of the army", in which they explain that "this is not the last body to [ avenge ] the three brothers".

The three Muslim brothers ( three , five and nine years of age) from the neighboring province of Narathiwat, were shot last week in front of their home, as they returned from evening prayers at the mosque. Their father and mother (who is pregnant) were also involved in the assault, but survived.

In recent days, the Islamist faction had carried out a first act of retaliation for the death of children: On 10 February, the wife of a policeman was killed and then set on fire, in an episode very similar to what happened last night, in the main market of the town in front of a terrified crowd.

A decade-long separatist struggle by Islamic extremists has engulfed southern Thailand on the border Malaysia, which has so far claimed over 5,900 casualties, most of them civilians. The Islamists want autonomy from Thailand, who annexed the region more than a century ago, and accuse the Thai and Buddhist authorities of human rights violations and of not respecting the local culture. Almost every day there are bombings and shootings; peace talks between the government and rebels are in an impasse , exacerbated by the political clash - between Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the opposition led by the Democrat Party - which has been crippling the institutional life in Bangkok and throughout Thailand for months.


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