PATTANI — Gunmen shot a Muslim army ranger to death at his wedding in the southern border province of Pattani yesterday – an attack authorities blame on local separatist militants.
The attack took place at a house in the Mueang district where the family of Ahmad Dao, a 28-year-old ranger, was hosting a wedding reception for him and his bride-to-be, police said.
“We believe this is an attempt to cause a bad situation by sympathizers of those who wish to cause unrest in the region,” Police Lt. Col. Anthee Ko-ari, an officer at a local police station, told reporters, using a state euphemism for secessionists who are battling to secede Pattani and its neighboring provinces from Thailand.
Ahmad and his bride, who was not identified, were welcoming guests to his wedding at around 5.20 pm when four men, who had arrived earlier and infiltrated the party, opened fire and shot Ahmad seven times before driving away, Anthee said.
Ahmad’s family rushed him to hospital but he later died of the injuries, Anthee said.
Police are investigating the attack.
According to data compiled by human rights groups, more than 6,000 people have died since the latest wave of separatist violence broke out in the Muslim-majority region, known as the Deep South, in January 2004.
The violence is believed to have been mostly perpetrated by a network of Islamic insurgents who aim to revive the independent nation of Patani, which was annexed by Thailand in 1902 and subsequently partitioned into the provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala.
At least 60,000 security officers have been stationed in the Deep South to combat the insurgency, including soldiers, marines, police officers and paramilitary army rangers.
Five people were killed and 14 injured in seven separates attacks between 6 Aug. and 12 Aug., according to Col. Pramote Prom-in, spokesperson of a counter-insurgency agency, the Internal Security Operation Command.
“The perpetrators of violence still create violent situations by planting bombs and shooting at security officers and civilians,” Pramote said at a news conference yesterday. “This is simultaneously done with efforts to spread the their ideology and distort facts, in order to discredit state power and spread paranoia in the region.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story indicated the attackers opened fire after pulling up on motorcycles. In fact they had earlier joined the wedding party before brandishing weapons and shooting the groom.
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