Gun­men kill eight in Thai­land

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Eight rel­a­tives, in­clud­ing three chil­dren, were killed by gun­men pos­ing as govern­ment of­fi­cials in Thai­land’s Krabi prov­ince, po­lice said yes­ter­day, a mass slay­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve was sparked by a per­sonal con­flict. Po­lice say a gang of around six or seven men, dressed in cam­ou­flage outfits, stormed a house in the south­ern prov­ince around 4.00 pm on Mon­day. They took ten peo­ple hostage and waited for the owner of the prop­erty-a lo­cal vil­lage chief-to re­turn.

“Around 8 pm the owner ar­rived, all of them (the vic­tims) were hand­cuffed and blind­folded un­til mid­night when gun­men opened fire,” Chai­wut Buathong, chief of Ao Luek dis­trict, said. Six died at the scene and two oth­ers died in hospi­tal, Chai­wut said, adding three of the vic­tims were girls aged un­der 15. Three oth­ers were taken to hospi­tal with one in crit­i­cal con­di­tion. Deputy na­tional po­lice spokesman Kris­sana Pat­tanacharoen told re­porters the vic­tims came from a lo­cal Mus­lim fam­ily and that the gun­men “claimed to be of­fi­cials who wanted to check on il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity”.

Pho­tos taken by med­i­cal work­ers showed two bod­ies slumped on a blood­splat­tered chil­dren’s bed, with a teddy bear thrown to one side. Po­lice said they are still in­ves­ti­gat­ing pos­si­ble mo­tives, in­clud­ing a prop­erty dis­pute be­tween the vil­lage chief and lo­cals who oc­cu­pied pub­lic land in his com­mu­nity. “Per­son­ally I be­lieve that the mo­tive is a se­ri­ous per­sonal con­flict,” said na­tional po­lice chief Chak­tip Chai­jinda, who flew down to Krabi to lead the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Firearm own­er­ship is com­mon in Thai­land and the coun­try boasts one of the high­est gun-re­lated homi­cide rates in Asia.

But while petty ar­gu­ments and dis­putes fre­quently turn deadly, mass or­ga­nized killings are rare. Krabi prov­ince is a pop­u­lar hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion boast­ing beaches like Ao Nang and Rai Ley, though Mon­day’s killings took place in an area re­moved from the main tourist drags. The prov­ince boasts a large Mus­lim com­mu­nity who have lived in the re­gion for cen­turies. They are Thai speakers and eth­ni­cally dif­fer­ent from the Malay-speak­ing Mus­lims in the coun­try’s three south­ern­most prov­inces where a vi­o­lent na­tion­al­ist in­sur­gency has raged against the cen­tral govern­ment for more than a decade.—AFP

KRABI, Thai­land: This hand­out photo shows lo­cal res­cue work­ers gath­ered over the bod­ies of vic­tims of a shoot­ing at a res­i­dence in the south­ern Thai prov­ince of Krabi. —AFP

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