Muslim cop shot dead in restive Thai south

Agence France Presse

Bangkok, June 18:

A Muslim community police officer was shot dead today by suspected separatist militants and five villagers were wounded in a grenade attack in the latest violence in Thailand’s Muslim majority south, police said. Muhamadsamidin Tohma, 28, was shot several times in Bacho district of Narathiwat province as he rode his motorcycle home after finishing his night shift at a security outpost. “The motive for the killing was it’s part of the unrest campaign,” police said, adding they found two bullet cases but the gunmen escaped. The community policing initiative was begun this year by local police to encourage young Muslims to join the government’s fight against separatists. Community police officers receive training and pay from police, but are not to the same level as the regular police.

Separately, five villagers were wounded in a grenade attack yesterday evening in Yaha district of Yala province, when an unknown number of militants threw grenades into a shop, police said. Their condition was unknown. More than 710 people have died since January 2004 in near-daily attacks, when a bloody attack on a weapons depot started a violent uprising in the kingdom’s three southernmost provinces bordering Malaysia. Authorities blame the unrest on a mixture of Islamic separatist insurgents, organised crime and contraband smugglers. At least 10 people have been killed in the past five days, including an elderly Buddhist man who was found beheaded late on Tuesday in Pattani province’s Yaring district.