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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Ice cream vendor beheaded

AN ice cream vendor was killed and his headless body left sitting on the bicycle seat of his cart in Thailand's rebellious Muslim south today, police said.

The vendor, a 45-year-old Buddhist originally from the country's northeast, was shot three times in the back of his head while riding his cart into a Muslim village in Pattani, one of the three provinces hit by the violence, police said.

"They chopped his head off and walked away with it, leaving his body sitting on the ice cream bike's seat," a Pattani policeman said by telephone.

"Under current circumstances, he shouldn't have ventured into such a village," the policeman said.

The man was killed just hours before Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont flew to the region where 2000 people have been killed in a three-year insurgency.

A police colonel was also shot in the head by a sniper while a security team was visiting a village Surayud and Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn were to visit, police said.

He was seriously wounded and rushed to hospital.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the violence which has seen almost daily gun and bomb attacks in the three predominantly Muslim southern provinces bordering Malaysia.

Thailand's military-appointed Government has embarked on a peace drive in the Malay-speaking region, an independent sultanate until the Buddhist-dominated Bangkok government annexed it a century ago.

But the attacks have continued.

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