Tuesday, October 26, 2004
The AFP says terrorists are victims of the Thai Buddhists: Thais say 84 dead after clashes in Muslim south.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, speaking before the announcement of the 78 deaths, said the protesters were weak because of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan which started on October 15.
"It is normal that their bodies could not handle it. It is not about someone attacking them," Thaksin told reporters.
The protests were sparked by the arrest of six Muslim men accused of handing guns to rebels in Muslim-majority southern Thailand, where an insurgency has left 414 dead this year. Police said some of the crowd on Monday tried to storm the police station but were stopped by the 1,000-strong security force.
The detainees were lined up face down on the ground in a row, with their hands tied behind their backs before being taken away in trucks.
Thai forensic scientist Pornthip Rojansunan told a press conference in Pattani province that 80 percent of the victims died because they could not breathe.
"We didn't find any dead bodies with broken arms or legs, but between two or three of them had broken necks which may have been caused from the transportation," she said.
Government spokesman Jakrapob Penkair said earlier that "fasting and possible drug consumption" were the major factors behind the deaths.