Militants free driver who asks protection from Allah
Suspected militants killed nine passengers, including a school student, riding on of a mini van in Yala on Wednesday, highlighting an escalation in the insurgency.
A commuter van with 10 passengers en route from Yala's Betong district to Songkhla's Hat Yai was blocked by a tree in Yaha district before a group of 10 militants came out of the jungle to launch the attack at about 8.20am.
"I tried to turn the car when I saw the three blocked the road but it's too late as a group of armed men came out and opened fire to us," said survival driver Abdullarman Kadeh.
"I jumped out of the car and saw the militants shoot at the head of all passengers," said the driver who was also injured.
The militants captured the driver and forced him to lie on the ground. He prayed to ask protection from Allah and thus the militants realised he was a Muslim and let him go.
Eight passengers died at the scene while one other died on the way to hospital. Rangers stationing nearby reached the site a bit late as they were obstructed by a roadside bomb, an official said.
Among the dead passengers were a soldier, a school student and a woman teacher, police said and noted all of them were Buddhists. Police in Yaha district was looking for a Muslim passenger who got off the van shortly before the attack.
The driver did not mention about that Muslim passenger but said he was about to take another passenger at the next stop at Pa Tae junction.
The Betong Tour Co who ran the van commuter between Betong and Hat Yai meanwhile announced to halt operation until confidence in safety would be restored.