Associated Press

Bangkok, May 1:

The government has asked Buddhist monks in the restive Muslim-dominated provinces in

southern Thailand to suspend their traditional morning rounds for alms following recent attacks against clergy.

In the past two months, unidentified assailants have killed four monks and wounded four others while they were on their rounds for food, said Kanok Saenprasert, director of the Religious Affairs Department. Kanok said the government began providing police escorts for the monks following the slayings.

“But when pictures of police officers carrying M-16 rifles, escorting the Buddhist monks, appear in the papers, it does not look good. So our department is urging the monks who live in the risk areas to halt their morning rounds,” Kanok said.

The saffron-robed monks are required by Buddhist custom to walk around their neighbourhoods each morning with bowls to collect food from followers.