Wed, Sep 12, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Two Thais killed despite crackdown ahead of Ramadan

AFP , YALA, THAILAND

Two people were killed yesterday by suspected insurgents in Thailand's Muslim south, as residents of the region prepared to observe Islam's holy month of Ramadan, police said.

A 57-year-old retired police sergeant was killed in a drive-by shooting in Pattani town early yesterday morning, they said, while in Yala Province, a 21-year-old Muslim man was killed and his brother seriously injured after they were shot while riding a motorcycle together.

The latest killings came amid a fresh crackdown by security forces ahead of Ramadan, which begins with the sighting of a new moon, expected today.

More than 100 suspected insurgents have been arrested since Saturday and taken to detention camps at army bases, where they are questioned and often go through "re-education" programs.

They are required to be released after 30 days unless they are charged, but can be detained again in subsequent round-ups.

In a concession to local concerns about the holiday, the army said it would lift a curfew imposed since March on two of the most violent districts in Yala Province from today to Oct. 21.

Residents in the two districts had complained that the curfew would make it impossible for them to join their families for the breaking of the Ramadan fast.

More than 2,500 people have been killed since unrest erupted in the south in January 2004, with both Buddhists and Muslims the target of almost daily shootings, bombings and ambushes.

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