11 July 2024

Condemnations have poured in over an armed attack on a Buddhist temple in Narathiwat province Friday night which killed four monks — an incident widely believed designed to sow seeds of hatred between Thai Buddhists and Malay Muslims in the deep South.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha personally condemned the assault on Wat Rattananuparb in Su-ngai Kolok district in the southernmost province of Narathiwat and ordered a beef-up of security in the restive region. there.

Government spokesman Putthipong Punnakan said today that the prime minister also pleaded with people in the deep South to have faith and confidence in the government in its efforts to restore peace and order in the restive region.

Spokesman of the Fourth Army Region’s Internal Security Operations Command, Colonel Pramote Prom-in, said today that the perpetrators appeared intent to sow the seeds of hatred and division among Thai Buddhists and Malay Muslims in the region.

However, he pleaded with the people there not to resort to violent retaliations, saying that such a response would complicate the situation and make it difficult for the authorities to tackle the problem.

The colonel also warned Muslim religious leaders to exercise greater caution as the same group of perpetrators might try to harm them in order to put the blame on the authorities.

A group of about 10 armed men believed to be southern militants arriving in motorcycle stormed Wat Rattananuparb on Friday night, and attacked monk’s lodgings with automatic gunfire, killing the temple abbot and three other monks.

Fourth Army Region commander Lt-Gen Pornsak Poonsawat, meanwhile, said that security forces would not resort to illegal means to avenge the temple’s attack, but would use decisive measures to deal with the gunmen.

Lt-Gen Pornsak visited the temple last night and spent his time with villagers in the community in the temple’s neighbourhood to give them moral support and to assure them with increased security.

A defence volunteer unit was deployed at the temple since last night.

It was reported that several people brought alms to the temple for the remaining monks in the temple.

Su-ngai Padi district superintendent Pol Col Pakdee Preechaphon said that the temple’s attackers might have escaped to the mountain, adding that forensic experts might be able to identify the group after having examined some of the evidences recovered at the scene of the attack.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Chula Ratchamontri, the Muslim spiritual leader, and the Buddhism Protection Centre issued separate statements condemning the temple’s attack.

Defence Ministry spokesman Lt-Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich urged human rights advocacy organizations and groups as well as members of the public to condemn the attack which he described as savage and inhumane.

The attack took place as the Thai government and representatives of some of the militant groups plan to resume peace dialogue with Malaysia serving as facilitator.