South Thailand Violent

Beheadings a revenge attack, two paramilitary rangers killed by Veera Prateepchaikul

The gruesome mutilation of two paramilitary rangers killed in an ambush by suspected militants is to avenge against the recent killing of a partially disabled Muslim local

The beheading of two paramilitary rangers by suspected Islamist militants in Yarang district of Pattani province Monday was believed to be a revenge in retaliation against the mid-January killing of a partially-disabled Muslim by government officials, according to the Internal Security Operations Command.

The two victims, identified as Neehasan Neewae, 30, and 56-year old Chua Chotirat, were ambushed by an unknown number of suspected militants in a para rubber plantation about two kilometers from their outpost in Yarang district as they were on their way to carry out their routine psychological warfare mission. After the ambush, the militants shot the victims at point-blank range, cut their heads and then set fire to their bodies before leaving with their two service pistols.

The severed head of Chua was left at the scene but the one belonging to Neewae is yet to be located.

Isoc officials suspected that the killing and beheading of the two rangers was a revenge attack in retaliation against the killing of Abdul Arshi Kongsathien on January 16 in Yarang district of Pattani. The killing of Abdul Arshi has led to protest by his friends of relatives who maintained that the victim whom they claimed was partially disabled and could not fire a gun was murdered by the authorities.

However, the authorities maintained that Abdul Arshi could use a gun and that the .38 calibre revolver seized from the victim had been used in the commission of at least 10 criminal acts resulting to seven deaths, including two policemen, and five injuries. They also claimed that traces of gun powder were traced on the victim’s hand.

Apart from the deep suspicion in the minds of the locals over Abdul Arshi’s death, the killing of a religious teacher, Abdul Karim Yusoh, who was shot dead in front of a mosque in Saiburi district of Pattani on January 30 by gunmen riding on a pickup truck has also fuelled deep mistrust of the officials.

Yusoh had just been released from jail after he was acquitted by the court. Shortly after his release, he told the Issara news agency that he was afraid that he might be silenced by the authorities.

Student activists of Prince of Songkhla University, Pattani campus, have called for an independent probe into the killings of Yusoh and Abdul Arshi to clear the air about suspicion of foul play by the authorities.

The gruesome mutilation of the two rangers has added to a total of 26 beheading cases registered in the strife-torn deep South in the past five years since violence flared up in 2004. The first beheading took place on May 27, 2004 in Sungai Padi district of Narathiwat and the victim was identified as 63-year old Chiang Padkaew. The last one was reported on September 21 last year and the victim was identified as Prateep Sombat, 51, in Srisakhon district of Narathiwat.

Earlier Mr Panyasak Sophonvasu, a researcher of the security studies project of the Office of the Research Support Fund, said that the beheadings of victims in the deep South by suspected Islamist militants were copycat acts borrowed from the extremists in Iraq and were intended to strike fear among government officials and Muslim civilians who collaborate with the officials.

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