3 Buddhist Women Slain in Thailand

March 19, 2007

Author: Sumeth Panpetch

Source: The Washington Post

Wire Service: AP


SABAYOI, Thailand -- Suspected Muslim separatists shot and killed three Buddhist women involved with a project for victims of Thailand's insurgency Monday, just two days after three Muslim children were killed in an attack on a boarding school.

Increasing violence that has targeted children, commuters and other innocent bystanders is raising fears that the insurgency, in which more than 2,000 people have been killed, could erupt into open combat between the Muslim and Buddhist communities in provinces along the Malaysian border.

Thailand is overwhelmingly Buddhist, but the country's far south is predominantly Muslim, and residents of the region have long felt that they are treated like second-class citizens.

The latest victims were headed to work at a farm project funded by Thailand's Queen Sirikit in the Nong Chik district of Pattani province, said police Lt. Phuen Khongdee.

The project was one of several in the area set up to help distressed women, including some widowed by the ongoing violence. It teaches them to grow vegetables, fruit and other basic necessities.