Thai Buddhist monks killed in temple shooting

Buddhist monks pass an armed Thai police officer assigned with securing the compound of Rattanaupap temple in Narathiwat province, 19 January 2019Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Armed police were deployed to the temple in Narathiwat province

Two Buddhist monks have been fatally shot and two others wounded inside a temple in southern Thailand.

Witnesses described seeing gunmen dressed in black arrive on motorbikes before storming the Rattanaupap temple, shooting the monks at close range.

No one has claimed Friday’s attack, but it took place in Narathiwat province near the border with Malaysia, which for years has seen rebel violence.

Muslim separatists there are fighting the Buddhist-majority Thai state.

Some 7,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the insurgency began in 2004.

The violence in the region has resulted in the deaths of at least 23 monks, according to the campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Thailand’s military rulers have said those behind the attack will be “punished”

Muslim and Buddhist leaders have both condemned the attack.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the shooting was an “outrageous act” and vowed to punish the perpetrators.