Buddhists Suspected in Thai Raids

September 7, 2007

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The Washington Times

Wire Service: AP


KOLOMUDO VILLAGE, Thailand -- The black-uniformed raiders roared into this Thai Muslim village, firing assault rifles and hurling grenades from a pickup truck at a group of teenagers relaxing near the mosque. When the attack was over, five of the youths lay dead.

As they have done in the past, authorities initially said the killers were Muslim insurgents terrorizing their own people in their separatist war against the Buddhist-dominated central government.

But then the official line on the village raid changed, with senior military commanders shifting suspicion to Buddhist vigilantes and heightening fears that the four-year-old conflict in Thailand's southern Muslim provinces is entering an ominous new phase.

Mohammed Kadir, a local government leader in Kolomudo, told the Associated Press that he doubted the raiders were Muslim insurgents disguised in military garb — as authorities claimed in other cases. He instead thought they could have been Buddhist vigilantes in official-looking uniforms or security forces, which long have been accused of torturing and secretly killing insurgent suspects.