Gunmen slay 3 young boys
Narathiwat shootings spark anger in South
Narathiwat: Three young brothers were killed and their parents wounded in a shooting in Bacho district on Monday night, that has shocked local people and the authorities.
The dead boys were identified as Muyaheh Maman, 11, and his two younger brothers Baharee, 9, and Ilyas, 6.
Their father Jehmu Maman, 40, and their four-months pregnant mother Padeelaeh Mayu, 33, were wounded and taken to Narathiwat Ratchanakarin Hospital.
Pol Maj Gen Pattanawut Angkhanawin, commander of Narathiwat Provincial Police, said the shooting took place about 9pm in front of house No.143/4 of Moo 7 in tambon Palukasamoh of Bacho district.
"It is one of the most horrible crimes ever committed against children in the deep South,'' Pol Maj Gen Pattanawut said after visiting the crime scene yesterday morning.
Witnesses told police that four gunmen armed with AK rifles and 9mm pistols opened fire on the family, Pol Maj Gen Pattanawut said.
He said Mr Jehmu told police that his family had just arrived home on a motorcycle after attending prayers at a village mosque and were about to enter the house when the gunmen hiding in nearby trees opened fire on them. The attackers then fled.
Mr Jehmu said his three young sons were all hit in the chest and rushed to Bacho Hospital, where they were later pronounced dead.
Pol Maj Gen Pattanawut said initial investigations suggest that a personal conflict was the likely motive behind the shooting because Mr Jehmu had shot dead Mayi Duere, an assistant to the village chief in tambon Sai Thong of Pattani's Mai Kaen district on April 21,2012.
Mr Jehmu is currently free on bail, pending a trial.
Pol Maj Gen Pattanawut said the suspected gunmen were likely outsiders brought in to carry out the attack.
However, Pol Maj Gen Pattanawut said investigators have not yet ruled out the possibility of insurgents being behind the attack and he denied rumours that local authorities were responsible.
He said such rumours were spread by insurgents to whip up hatred against the authorities.
The killing of the three young boys has raised serious concerns about soft targets and the safety of innocent people in the deep South.
Areenee Yama, a villager in nearby tambon Palukapaeroh of Bacho district, questioned why the gunmen had to kill the children.
"I can't accept it. It is a horrible crime. It should not have ended up with children being killed,'' said Ms Areenee, who was among 200 Muslims who gathered at a mosque in Ban Palukapaeroh to demand that police quickly bring the killers to justice.
Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha also condemned the killings.
"They are not gentlemen. They ambushed children, women and the elderly,'' he said.