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Two Buddhists killed in Thai Muslim south

world Updated: Mar 07, 2009 11:58 IST

Reuters
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Suspected separatist militants shot dead two Buddhists and set their bodies ablaze on Saturday in Thailand's Muslim-majority south, a police officer said.

The two men, brothers aged 40 and 36, were killed as they rode a motorcycle in Pattani province, one of the three southern provinces caught up in a separatist insurgency in which more than 3,000 people have been killed since 2003.

"The victims were shot by an AKA rifle, and the insurgents left a note saying 'This is a revenge on state officials'," the police officer told Reuters.

One of the victims was an assistant village headman, the officer said, adding the identity of the assailants was not known.

Pattani and the neighbouring provinces of Narathiwat and Yala, abutting Malaysia, were a Muslim sultanate until annexed a century ago by predominantly Buddhist Thailand. Around 80 per cent of people there are Muslim and speak a Malay dialect.

The violence has ranged from drive-by shootings to bombings and beheadings and often targets Buddhists and Muslims associated with the Thai state, such as police, soldiers, government officials and teachers.