At least 3 killed in southern Thailand prison riot

September 5th, 2011 - 8:48 pm ICT by BNO News  

PATTANI, THAILAND (BNO NEWS) — At least three people were killed on Monday morning when a prison riot broke out in the southern region of Thailand, officials were quoted as saying by local media.

The incident in the Pattani Central Prison began when a group of more than 40 inmates launched an attack against five other prisoners, causing them to flee to the roof. Three of the targeted prisoners later slipped and fell, after which they were beaten to death by the rioters, according to the Bangkok Post.

According to the reports, the incident initially began as a minor scuffle between a large group of Muslim inmates and another group of Buddhist prisoners who had been appointed as warders’ assistants. The Muslim group reportedly complained that they had been treated unfairly by the appointed warders’ assistants, particularly in food distribution and in the kitchen management, leading to conflicts.

During the riot, prison staff were forced to release prisoners from the Narathiwat and Yala blocks, reportedly increasing the number of rioters to 200. There are around 1,200 inmates at the Pattani Central Prison, and a total of 800 prisoners are believed to have participated in the rioting.

As the rioting continued, a letter was written to prison and provincial officials by representatives of the Muslim inmates, promising to end the rioting if a list of demands that was presented on behalf of the rioters was fulfilled.

In addition to modification of the prison’s regulations, the group demanded the replacement of wardens’ assistants and prison kitchen management with Muslim inmates. In addition, the rioters requested that those previously assigned as warders’ assistants and other Buddhist prisoners who helped create the conditions would be relocated to other prisons.

According to the Bangkok Post, Pattani deputy governor Lertkiat Wongpopan called for an emergency meeting with senior provincial administrators and prison officials after receiving the letter. The riot ended on Monday afternoon after the demands of the inmates were accepted.

Southern Thailand is majority Muslim, despite the country being mostly Buddhist. Separatist groups in the southern regions have brought constant and violent uprisings in the region for the past 6 years, leaving more than 4,300 people killed and more than 7,000 others injured.

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