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Two teenagers, monk killed in southern Thailand
Updated: 2005-10-16 15:13

Two teenagers and a monk were killed in a fire at a Buddhist temple in Thailand's restive south that police believe was deliberately lit by Islamic separatists.

The teenage boys appeared to have been shot before the attacks, while the monk died after being slashed on the neck at the Promprasith temple in Pattani province's Panarae district, police said.

"About 20 men invaded Wat Promprasith in the early morning around 2:15 am and set fire to the temple and the two monks' dwellings," district police captain Kittipat Sangwisuth told AFP.

"We found the bodies of two men who were burned in the fire, Harnnarong Kam-Ong, 17, and Sathaporn Suwannarat, 15, and assume that they were shot to death before the fire.

"We also found the body of a monk, Kaew Panjapetchkaew, who had cuts around his neck."

The attack was believed to be the work of Islamic militants, Kittipat said.

No details about the damage caused by the fire were immediately available.

Nearly 1,000 people have been killed since January 2004 in unrest in Thailand's Muslim-majority southern provinces bordering Malaysia.

Analysts and authorities say the almost daily shootings, bombings and arson attacks are a result of a mix of Islamic separatists, organised criminals and local corruption.

While Thailand is mainly Buddhist, most people in the south are ethnic Malay, who feel a close affinity to Malays in neighbouring Malaysia, and believe Bangkok discriminates against them because they are Muslim.

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