A day after three local children were shot to death, some 200 Muslim residents of a small Bajoh District village in Narathiwat staged a protest Tuesday (February 4th), calling for an end to violence.
Residents gathered mid-afternoon at Paluka Mosque in Paluka Samoh, expressing outrage at the attack by gunmen that killed the brothers and injured their father and pregnant mother. Police identified the dead boys as Ilayas Maman, 6, Baharee Maman, 9, and Muyahaed Maman, 11.
Protestors held banners that read "Stop shooting, stop killing, stop the atrocities" and "We are all Muslims". Others called on fellow residents to help authorities track down those responsible for attacking the Maman family.
"This area has never had any incidents like this before. I am so saddened that children were involved … It is totally unacceptable," resident Areenee— in tears-- told Khabar Southeast Asia.
Though police initially suspected Deep South insurgents for the attack, further investigation now suggests the Bajoh district shooting may be related to a personal dispute.
The boys' father, who sustained minor injuries, was out on bail while being tried for the April 21st, 2012, shooting death of Mayee Dureh, an assistant village headman in neighbouring Mai Kaen District of Pattani Province, according to police. The father Jehmu Maman, 40 and the four-months pregnant mother Padeelaeh Mayu, 33, are recovering from their injuries at Narathiwat Ratchanakarin Hospital.
Police said they would question Maman after he had time to recover psychologically from the deaths of his sons.
Army Major Amorn Khuanhawej, who safeguarded the demonstration with members of his Narathiwat-based Special Operations Unit 32, dismissed rumours that local security officials may have been involved in the attack.
"The army had nothing whatsoever to do with this incident...We have no reason to carry out such an atrocity," he told the crowd. "My men and I were made well aware of the situation on the ground before we were assigned here and we remain sincerely committed to solving the problems you face."
Areemee Yama, secretary of the Muslim Clerics Association in neighbouring Yi-Ngor District (and a distant relative of Areenee Yama), condemned the slaying of the three boys.
"True Muslims renounce violence in all of its forms. Targeting innocent children is not only against the doctrine of Islam, but is probably the most heinous crime against humanity one could imagine," he told Khabar.
Areemee said, "We have idea as to why these misguided people acted as they did. If there are differences of opinions, they should be resolved by peaceful means. Negotiation yields better results than bullets and bombs, which don't help anything and only cause devastation, loss and endless problems."