13 held in Pattani temple desecration

Xinhuanet, Oct 24, 2005

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Police detained 13 suspects who are allegedly involved in the brutal killing of a senior Buddhist monk and two temple boys in southern province of Pattani monastery last Sunday, an incident which sent shock waves through both Buddhist and Muslim communities in the troubled region.

More than 200 police officers from Yala searched houses and detained 16 suspects in Pattani's Mayor, Panare and Yaring districts on Saturday night (Oct. 22). Police also confiscated documents they said might be related to the case, the Thai News Agency reported Monday.

However, three suspects were later released after no evidence was found to implicate them.

In the incident a week ago, suspected insurgents killed a Buddhist monk and two teenaged temple assistants in an attack on Promprasit temple in Panare district of the predominately-Muslim southern border province of Pattani.

Local authorities said the attack was carried in the early hours of Sunday Oct. 16 by about 15 persons.

The monastery's living quarters were also set ablaze, and two large statues were vandalized and decapitated.

Officials said the attack was a deliberate attempt to deepen fear and distrust between the two religious communities, to further divide them.