2 monks dead as violence flares in Thailand’s south

Bangkok: Gunmen in Thailand’s deep south shot dead two Buddhist monks and wounded two others inside a temple, police said on Saturday, capping a week of deadly violence as the prime minister vowed to “punish” those responsible.
Black-clad assailants carrying rifles crept into Rattanaupap temple in Narathiwat province near Malaysia’s border on Friday evening and started firing, local superintendent Pakdi Preechachon said.
“The attack took place around 7:30 pm when an unknown number of gunmen dressed in black entered the temple through a rear area via a creek,” Pakdi said.
“Two monks were shot dead at the temple while two others were wounded.”
Since 2004 clashes between ethnic Malay and the Buddhist-majority Thai state that annexed the region a century ago have killed nearly 7,000 people, mostly civilians of both faiths.
The death toll in the south dropped to a record low last year as Thailand’s junta tightened its security web but violence has boiled over in recent days, raising concerns about soft targets at schools and religious institutions.
But they have been told to suspend morning alms collection starting from Saturday in three southern provinces and the southern army commander has instructed security officials to step up safeguards of Islamic leaders who could also be at risk.
Junta leader and prime minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha condemned the temple shootings.
— AFP