NARA Anonymous gunmen fired dead two Buddhist monks and injured two others on Friday at a temple in the southern Thai province of Narathiwat, which has a largely ethnic Malay, Muslim population.

“We believe that at least six attackers were involved in the firing and are at large,” a police spokesman in the Su-ngai Padi district told.

The victims, an abbot and vice abbot, were shot inside the Rattanupap Buddhist temple on Friday night. The two wounded people were being treated at a nearby hospital.

A separatist insurgency has dragged on in southern Thailand for more than fifteen years. More than 6,900 people have been killed and 13,000 injured in the area since 2004 when disorder intensified, independent monitoring group Deep South Watch says.

Religious figures, both Buddhists and Muslims as well as state officials, have often been targeted for attacks.

As with most brutality in Thailand’s deep south, there was no claim of liability.

Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country but Muslim Malays are a majority in three southern provinces adjoining Malaysia.

The three regions and a small part of neighbouring Songkhla were part of a sultanate joined by Thailand in 1909. Separatist tensions have raged ever since.

The Thai military government has taken part since 2015 in talks brokered by Malaysia that aim to end the disorder but that means postponed last year. Bangkok has indicated that it will return to the talks this year.

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