PATTANI — A volunteer army ranger is now in police custody for allegedly shooting and killing a five-year-old girl in the restive province of Pattani, where tens of thousands of security officers are stationed to quell a simmering Islamic separatist insurgency.
According to police, Panusak Makkham, 21, was out drinking with a friend last night when the two got in a heated argument. Panusak then opened fire on his friend, identified as Nattapol, but the bullets missed and hit Nattapol's five-year-old daughter instead. The girl was brought to hospital but eventually died from the gunshot wound.
Panusak reportedly fled the crime scene but surrendered himself to the police this morning.
The ranger volunteer has been charged with premeditated murder, unauthorised possession of firearms and ammunition, and unauthorised possession of a firearm in a public place.
Over 5,000 people have been killed in Pattani and its two neighbouring provinces, Narathiwat and Yala, since waves of Islamic separatist violence erupted in 2004. Shadowy groups of insurgents have staged regular attacks on security forces and civilians in the region to demand the formation of an independent state comprised of the three southern provinces.
However, security forces in the area have also committed numerous acts of violence against civilians in the area.
In September, an army volunteer based in Narathiwat province admitted to killing a 14-year-old Muslim boy and planting a gun in his hand in an effort to frame the victim as an armed insurgent.
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