Suspected Islamist separatists shot and killed three Buddhist women involved with a project for victims of Thailand’s insurgency March 19. The victims were headed to work at a farm project funded by Thailand’s Queen Sirikit in the Nong Chik district of Pattani province, one of several in the area set up to help distressed women, including some widowed by the political violence. The project teaches the women to grow vegetables, fruit and other basic necessities. Assailants on a motorcycle drove up next to the truck the women were riding in and fired randomly. Thirteen other women escaped unharmed.
The killings come in the wake of the March 17 attack on a dormitory at an Islamic boarding school in the province of Songkhla, which left three young students dead. Police said Islamist insurgents staged the attack on the Bamrungsart Pondok school in an attempt to convince villagers that authorities were responsible and win them over. Villagers, however, blamed government security forces.
Buddhists and Muslims staged separate protests March 19 in the district of Sabayoi, where the school is located. About 500 Buddhists gathered peacefully in front of the district chief’s office to protest the ongoing violence, while some 100 Muslim women and children led a separate protest outside the school where the attack took place, blocking police and military from entering the site to investigate. “Soldiers killed the children. Don’t come into our village,” the women shouted. “We don’t want any help from you Buddhists.” (AP, March 20)
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