State official beheaded in Thai Muslim south

YALA, Thailand (Reuters) – Separatist militants shot dead and beheaded a Buddhist state official in Thailand’s Muslim south on Tuesday, police said, the latest death in 57 months of insurgency in which more than 3,100 people have died.

Police found 29 spent M-16 bullets around the pickup truck of the victim, identified as 26-year-old Attapong Gonlom, after at least two gunmen opened fire on him at a school in Pattani, one of four southern provinces hit by the violence.

After the attack, the gunmen dragged his body out of the truck and chopped his head off, to the horror of students and teachers,” a police incident report said.

The incident pushed the number of people decapitated in the Malay-speaking region to 34, a Reuters calculation based on police data and newspaper reports showed.

In the nearby province of Yala, rebels raided a seven-man army outpost late on Monday, killing one ranger and wounding another, police said.

The militants walked away with seven automatic rifles, a pistol, four flak jackets and 1,000 bullets, police said.

An army spokesman could not say what happened to the other five rangers.

“The attack happened when the rangers were about to have dinner and it is not clear if the rest were able to escape,” Colonel Acra Tiproch told Reuters by telephone.

Since the latest violence erupted in 2004, the rebels have never revealed themselves publicly or claimed responsibility for the near daily gun and bomb attacks in the rubber-producing region bordering Malaysia.

(Reporting by Nopporn Wong-Anan; Editing by Alan Raybould)


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