ASSAILANTS YESTERDAY shot dead a couple in their tobacco shop in broad daylight in a fresh market in Pattani's Ma-Yor district and fled in the victims' pickup truck.
The suspects, two men, later left the pickup behind after being chased in Yarang district.
Initial police investigation reveal the victims – Suchart and Kesorn Chantibhodi, both from Nakhon Si Thammarat, were selling tobacco in Palas market at about 11am when the two men approached them, pretending to be customers.
The suspects suddenly drew out guns and opened fire. They then stole the couple’s car keys and drove off in their pickup, which was loaded with tobacco.
Kesorn succumbed to head and body wounds on the way to hospital while Suchart was announced dead at the hospital.
At 2pm, soldiers and village volunteers spotted the pickup in tambon Korlam, Yarang district. They followed it and later found the vehicle abandoned in Kuvae village.
Meanwhile, authorities in the South have beefed up security measures ahead of the 10th anniversary today of the massacre at the Krue Se mosque.
In 2004, dozens of Islamic militants launched coordinated pre-dawn attacks before about 30 assailants barricaded themselves inside the historic Krue Se mosque in Pattani.
They were all killed by the army. The shootings angered local Muslims and the army was criticised for using excessive force.
The authorities strengthened their screening of vehicles and people at existing checkpoints in Yala’s Betong district, particularly those leading to Betong municipality and exits to the Thai-Malaysian border.
Fourth Army Region Commander Lt-General Walit Rojanaphakdee has issued an order for all security units in the deep South to be on alert for possible attacks today.
Intelligence units in the area have reported that insurgents may stage bomb attacks including car bomb attacks to “commemorate” the people killed at the site. Alerts have been issued in all areas, particularly Thai Buddhist communities, as well as economic and business areas.