Prominent Muslim cleric murdered in Thailand’s south

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thai.bom-three-policemen201303afp1On August 5, a leading Muslim cleric was murdered in Thailand’s restive south. This was one of the highest-profile assassinations yet of a Muslim working with the Thai government to resolve the long-simmering southern insurgency, and it is raising fears of an escalation in the conflict.

Imam Yacob Raimani was killed in a drive-by shooting on Monday evening, according to police. Unidentified gunmen opened fire on the 51-year-old cleric as he was leaving the market in Pattani city.

Yacob had worked with the Thai authorities for years in efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the southern insurgency, where Muslim militias have been fighting to claim a piece of southern Thailand for their own. He survived an assassination attempt in 2011, but continued with his work undeterred.

Sunai Pasuk, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, warned that the high-profile assassination could spread fear among local Muslims that they could become targets if they collaborate with Thai authorities. Indeed, this was likely the point.

“This is a message of terror to what they call ‘Muslim collaborators’ in the region, in order to make them cease their connection with the Thai authorities,” Sunai said in an interview with The Washington Post. “It will also make the local community leaders that sympathize with the peace process withdraw themselves from being vocal about their support.”

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Reading Time: 1 minute

On August 5, a leading Muslim cleric was murdered in Thailand’s restive south. This was one of the highest-profile assassinations yet of a Muslim working with the Thai government to resolve the long-simmering southern insurgency, and it is raising fears of an escalation in the conflict.

Reading Time: 1 minute

thai.bom-three-policemen201303afp1On August 5, a leading Muslim cleric was murdered in Thailand’s restive south. This was one of the highest-profile assassinations yet of a Muslim working with the Thai government to resolve the long-simmering southern insurgency, and it is raising fears of an escalation in the conflict.

Imam Yacob Raimani was killed in a drive-by shooting on Monday evening, according to police. Unidentified gunmen opened fire on the 51-year-old cleric as he was leaving the market in Pattani city.

Yacob had worked with the Thai authorities for years in efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the southern insurgency, where Muslim militias have been fighting to claim a piece of southern Thailand for their own. He survived an assassination attempt in 2011, but continued with his work undeterred.

Sunai Pasuk, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, warned that the high-profile assassination could spread fear among local Muslims that they could become targets if they collaborate with Thai authorities. Indeed, this was likely the point.

“This is a message of terror to what they call ‘Muslim collaborators’ in the region, in order to make them cease their connection with the Thai authorities,” Sunai said in an interview with The Washington Post. “It will also make the local community leaders that sympathize with the peace process withdraw themselves from being vocal about their support.”

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