Top Pattani official has predicted arrests in relation to the incident will follow swiftly and has blamed it on a local warlord and crime boss who controls the region where the atrocity took place on Saturday.
Three members of a family from Songkhla delivering a consignment of products to Narathiwat in southern Thailand were gunned down and burned to death on Saturday in a terrifying early morning attack by heavily armed gunmen on motorbikes.
Officials in Pattani province on Saturday were pointing the finger at a local insurgency group as being responsible for a brutal attack that left three dead on the highway from Narathiwat to Pattani.
This incident occurred early in the morning and left a blazing wreck at the scene which contained the charred remains of a father and daughter.
On Saturday morning in the Sai Buri district of Pattani, sometime around 6 am, 58-year-old Mr Suporn Kittiprapanan was travelling in a bronze colour Toyota Hilux pickup to Narathiwat to deliver foam and plastic products.
He was accompanied by his daughter Ms Jiraporn Kittiprapanan and his grandson Mr Santipattana Kittiprapanan.
Officers at Sai Buri Police Station called to the scene at 6.30 am when a burning wreck was found at the centre of the highway with charred remains trapped inside
Police led by Provincial Police Region 9 chief Lieutenant General Ronnasilp Poosara were called to the scene at 6.30 am approximately when Sai Buri district Police Station was notified of the incident.
It is understood the pickup was pursued on the main highway by two motorbikes carrying four people, each with a driver and pillion passenger.
The motorbikes accelerated and overtook the car before the two pillion passengers immediately opened fire on Mr Suporn’s vehicle.
Driver hit in head and body, lost control of the Toyota vehicle as motorbike pillion passengers opened fire
He was hit in the head and body causing him to lose control of the vehicle which plunged into the ditch and undergrowth in the middle of the motorway.
The attackers then got off their motorbikes and fired more rounds into the pickup before dousing it with petrol and setting it ablaze.
Police believe the gunmen were armed either with M16 or M19 assault rifles and found over 30 spent cartridges at the scene. These are being examined for forensic evidence.
Daughter’s charred body found under the console, victims were all from the same family in Songkhla
His daughter’s body was subsequently found hiding beneath the console of the vehicle while his grandson managed to escape outside.
He was found by rescuers at the scene but died shortly after he was transported to the hospital from fatal bullet wounds inflicted by the gunmen.
The three who died were all from the same family and lived in the Hat Yai district of Songkhla province.
Police believe that this was a particularly cruel and callous attack on the public and the family were entirely innocent victims.
Attackers set the pickup ablaze after dousing it with petrol killing the driver’s daughter at that moment
There are reports from the scene that the attackers also shot at other cars on the road but conflicting reports suggest the attackers approached Mr Suporn’s pickup after it had crashed into the ditch at the centre of the roadway and shot him several times.
It was at this point that Mr Santipattana managed to escape his grandfather’s vehicle and immediately thereafter, it was set ablaze, killing Ms Jiraporn by fire.
A second vehicle was also reportedly attacked and burned on the highway.
Top official sees this is a terror tactic being used by a local insurgency group that has been seen before
Major General Khom Krit Ratanachai of the Pattani Provincial Administrative Organisation told the press that he recalled such attacks previously in the border insurgency although it was some time ago. He abhorred the cruelty and violence used by the perpetrators.
He assured the public that police would hunt down the attackers either from clues identified at the scene by the forensics team in particular the bullet casings or from data and intelligence that security agencies keep relating to the ongoing struggle.
Work of a local crime lord and gangster
He indicated he thought it was the work of a local known crime lord linked with the insurgency who was particularly active in the Sai Buri district.
He predicted there will be arrests in connection with the outrage while security throughout the region will be reinforced.