NARATHIWAT, Thailand -- Assailants armed with assault rifles launched a deadly attack on a tea shop in Narathiwat on Wednesday (July 24th), killing two Muslims. The incident, one of several this week, marred the ongoing Ramadan truce between Thailand and separatist militants.
The victims were identified as 38-year-old Awae Nisaya and Maseng Moong, 42. A third man, aged 61, is said to have been injured. According to local sources, Moong was once a local council member in the Yi-ngor subdistrict of Lubo Bersa, where Wednesday's murder took place. Police are investigating the possible motives.
In all, nine people have been killed in attacks this week. Also on Wednesday, two female teachers died when a bomb went off as they were driving to Pithak Withaya Kumung School in Narathiwat's Chanae District. A day earlier, gunmen shot a couple dead in front of their 4-year-old son as the family was traveling by motorbike, also in Narathiwat.
The apparent spike in violence has rattled the area after a period of relative calm following the peace accord between Thai authorities and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional, one of the main insurgent groups operating in the Deep South.
Malaysia -- which is facilitating peace talks between the Thai government and Muslim rebels from the region -- announced on July 12th that the two sides had agreed to try to avoid bloodshed during Ramadan. Under the "Ramadan Peace Initiative", Thai authorities have removed a number of roadblocks and the military has withdrawn its personnel from some villages in a bid to ease tension, AFP reported.
After the initial drop in violence, the Thai government raised the possibility of reducing troop numbers in the region.