Abbot shot dead in temple on holy day

by PAWARISA PHUMAS, Bangkok Post, Sept 19, 2005

Nakhon Pathom, Thailand -- A revered monk was shot dead in broad daylight by a lone gunman in the presence of over 100 people attending religious rites at a temple in Nakhon Chaisi district to mark yesterday's Buddhist holy day.

The attack took place at about 10am while the abbot of Wat Po Takua, 59-year-old Phrakhru Sirichayaphiwat, also known as Luang Phor Boonlert Pariboonno, was seated in an open-side hall performing a religious ceremony.

Pol Sub-Lt Pongsin Trithepa, duty officer at Nakhon Chaisi district police, quoted eyewitnesses as saying that the gunman, who was wearing a red woolen cap, had been standing at a window behind the monk's seat when he drew an 11mm pistol and shot Phrakhru Sirichayaphiwat in the head, killing him instantly. The gunman fled the scene on a motorcycle.

Pol Col Traiwit Namthongthai, a superintendent of Region 7 police, said he suspected that the murder was motivated by internal conflicts at Wat Takua over cash donations.