4 traders killed in insurgency-hit Thai south
YALA, Thailand (AFP) – Four fruit traders were shot dead by suspected militants in Thailand’s unrest-hit south early on Tuesday, an army spokesman told AFP.
The bodies of the victims, a woman and three men, were found with their hands and legs bound in a warehouse they used as a base for their business in Krong Pinang district of Yala province.
Army spokesman Colonel Pramote Promin said they were Buddhists from the eastern Thai province of Rayong who regularly travelled to the Muslim-majority south to buy fruit.
“These people come to buy fruits in three southern provinces (Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani) like durian and longkong… they were familiar with the area and people,” he said, adding a fifth trader escaped the attack.
Thailand’s government has tried to stimulate the conflict-wracked southern economy by encouraging traders to buy fruit, rubber and other local produce for sale in the rest of the country.
But insurgents, who are fighting for greater autonomy for the southernmost provinces, perceive people with links to the government as collaborators and legitimate targets in their nine-year war.