A baby girl was among seven people killed yesterday by suspected Islamist separatists, police said, as an almost nine-year-old insurgency in southern Thailand that has killed thousands of people shows no signs of letting up.
Five people were killed and another four wounded in a drive-by shooting at a tea shop in Narathi-wat province's Ra-ngae district, said local police chief Col Jiradej Prasawang. The dead included 11-month-old Efahni Samoh, while the wounded included a 10-month-old boy, Muhammad Yaena.
Jiradej said the shop may have been targeted by the gunmen, who were firing AK-47 assault rifles, because the owner is a village official. Officials and teachers, as representatives of the state, are prime targets for the insurgents, whose terror tactics are also thought to be aimed at scaring Buddhist residents fleeing the region.
In a separate incident, five attackers shot dead a principal and a teacher at a school in neighbouring Pattani province's Mayo district before stealing a pickup truck as they fled, said Mayo police chief Col Kong-art Suwannakham. The total number of school personnel killed in such attacks is now 157, according to the regional teachers association.
More than 5,000 people have been killed in the three Muslim-dominated southernmost provinces of Buddhist-dominated Thailand since an Islamist insurgency erupted in January 2004.