Sun, Jun 08, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Police seal Thai village, suspected insurgent killed

AFP , TANYONG LIMO, THAILAND

A man wanted over the killing of two Thai marines died in a gunfight during a bloody night that claimed five more lives in Thailand’s Muslim-majority south, police said yesterday.

The suspected insurgent, Alinsan Nikaji, was killed after 100 police and soldiers sealed off the village of Tanyong Limo as they searched for a militant hideout, police said.

A 20-minute gunfight broke out after they found four suspected rebels inside a home in the village. Alinsan, 25, was killed during the battle.

Thai authorities had a 1,000,000 baht (US$30,300) reward out for his arrest over his role in a dramatic hostage-taking that ended in the beating deaths of two marines in the village in 2005.

Two other men, each with 500,000 baht rewards on their heads, were also arrested, police said.

The hostage crisis in Tanyong Limo was one of the most dramatic incidents in the four-year insurgency that has claimed more than 3,300 lives in Thailand’s southernmost provinces.

Hundreds of veiled women and young children faced down heavily armed soldiers for 18 hours, while militants held two Thai marines hostage inside the village’s mosque.

The women only allowed the soldiers to enter the village after the marines had been beaten to death and the hostage takers had escaped.

The latest raid on Tanyong Limo came during a bloody night of attacks across the southern region, along the Malaysian border.

Two Muslim construction workers, aged 24 and 29, were shot dead late on Friday in an ambush in Songkhla Province, while a 50-year-old Buddhist woman was killed in a drive-by shooting in nearby Yala, police said.

A 48-year-old Muslim man was gunned down late on Friday inside his home in Narathiwat Province, while a 23-year-old Muslim rubber tapper was shot dead in the same province early yesterday.

Separatist unrest broke out in January 2004 in the south, which was an autonomous Malay Muslim sultanate until mainly Buddhist Thailand annexed it in 1902, provoking decades of tension.

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