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Imam Yacob Raimanee of the Pattani Central Mosque, the main house of Islamic worship in one of the violence plagued southern provinces, was gunned down on Monday afternoon in the town of Pattani.
Raimanee was a key Muslim leader who supported negotiations to end bloodshed between government and Muslims and was killed despite an agreement between Thailand and Muslim rebels in the area to avoid bloodshed during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan that ends this week.
“I can say that this incident is worrying” said National Security Council chief and lead peace negotiator Paradon Pattanatabut, “The Imam was one of those supporting talks, he was killed, so we are concerned”.
Since 2004, more than 5,700 lives have been lost in the region from shootings, bombings and even beheadings, the targets are those perceived as collaborating with the Thai state. Rebels have never really made their demands very clear, although it is suggested they want more autonomy or a separate state in the region, that was part of a Malay sultanate until 1909.