Troops kill three unarmed teenagers

Narathiwat (Agencies)Thai security forces have shot and killed three more Muslim boys, sparking fresh, angry protests by residents. Insurgents attacked a train and wounded two passengers in the deep South.None of the youths in the troop incident was armed. Police said the paramilitary rangers were acting in self-defence.

The boys, aged 13 and 14, were killed late Friday by security forces in Pattani, one of three Muslim-majority southern provinces bordering Malaysia, police said.

They said the security forces opened fire after a group of five to 10 Muslim boys ran towards them as they tried to extinguish a blaze at a mobile phone base station.

“When security forces were working to extinguish the fire, the teenagers ran towards them and tried to attack the security forces,” a police official claimed.

Three of the youths were killed and three wounded. None was armed, but police said the paramilitary rangers were acting in self-defence.

“They didn’t know what to do but to protect themselves,” Pattani police chief Somjitr Nasomyon said, referring to the soldiers who opened fire, killing three teenagers.

The killings sparked new protests by Pattani residents.

“They were angry about last night and they want to talk with the governor this afternoon,” Somjitr said.

Security forces have been placed on high alert against possible terrorist attacks during the five-day Songkran holidays, marking the traditional Thai New Year.

In next-door Narathiwat province, a 19-year-old Muslim youth was shot dead by suspected Islamic rebels in a drive-by shooting late Friday, police said.

Suspected insurgents on Saturday morning attacked a train in Narathwat province and wounded two persons while security forces apprehended seven militant suspects, including a man wanted in connection with charges of threatening security in the far South, officials said.

The northbound train travelling between Sungai Kolok district and Nakhon Si Thammarat province was assaulted by a group of suspected militants just before it reached a train workers’ residence in Ruso district of Narathiwat province.

The attackers fired dozens of salvos of gunfire at the train, forcing passengers to hide themselves for protection. Two passengers were wounded and were urgently dispatched to hospital in the district.

Meanwhile, more than 300 police and military personnel shortly after dawn Sunday swept through 11 locations in Ruso district in a search operation and apprehended seven suspected militants, including a man identified as 31-year-old Anand Sarai, who wanted by the government on charges of threatening national security.

All seven suspects were later transported to an army camp in nearby Pattani province for interrogation.

Also, several items including two shotguns, three knives, a kilogramme of urea fertiliser used for making explosives, four SIM cards and a military-style telecommunications radio were seized during the four-hour search, police said.

Shortly afterwards, more than 300 villagers, mainly women, blocked a road in Ruso district for over an hour, demanding the release of the suspects. Police and army officers reportedly told the protestors that the suspects will be released if they are found innocent.

The protesting villagers later dispersed without any untoward incident, officials said.

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