Mon, Feb 23, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Thai official slain, beheaded in south

AP AND DPA , BANGKOK AND PATTANI, THAILAND

A village official was beheaded yesterday and his wife shot dead by suspected insurgents as violence continued to rise in Thailand’s south, police said.

Attackers opened fire on Kompetch Janyalert and Yenjai Janyalert as they rode their motorcycle to work in Yala Province early yesterday, police said. Both were killed by gunfire and Kompetch was later beheaded.

A bomb planted near his headless body later exploded, injuring one police officer, police Lieutenant Surawit Daokrajai said.

Kompetch was a deputy village head, and police believe he was killed because he supported the military in its long-running battle against Islamic militants.

An Islamic separatist insurgency in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces has led to the deaths of more than 3,300 people since early 2004.

Yesterday’s attack was the latest sign that violence — which had waned in recent months — is on the rise again. On Friday, suspected Muslim insurgents ambushed a military convoy and beheaded two soldiers.

Authorities blame the beheadings on the desperation of the insurgents, who they claim are losing the support of the people.

“From the political point of view, the army has been receiving significantly more cooperation from local people and that drives the militants to adapt more brutal retaliation,” said Colonel Parinya Chaidilok, an army spokesman.

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