Alleged Muslim rebels behead kidnap victims
BANGKOK (AFP): Thai police said this afternoon that they had found the severed heads of two Thais kidnapped by alleged Muslim separatists near the Malaysian border. Deputy police chief Sant Sarutanond said members of the Muslim separatist New PULO were responsible for the beheadings in the southern province of Yala, near the border. “They did this for money,” Sant said. “The separatist (reasoning) is just an excuse.” After taking the two Thais hostage last month, the kidnappers demanded ransom payments totaling some two million baht (about 44,000 dollars) from the victims’ families. A handwritten note in the Thai Muslim dialect of Yawi was reportedly found with the severed heads, which had been dumped by a roadside in Raman district. Regional police chief Thawatchai Chullasukhon said the beheadings were the work of “bandits” trying to show their strength. In April, Muslim rebels in southern Thailand were blamed for a string of deadly bombings that left one child dead and nearly 50 people injured. At the time, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra vowed to crush the long-running insurgency in the five southern provinces bordering Malaysia. There are two main groups of Thai separatists, the Pattani United Liberation Organisation (PULO), also known as New PULO, and Barisan Revolusi Nasional, also based in the predominantly Muslim south.
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