Paradorn Pattanatabut, secretary general of the National Security Council (NSC), said the leader of Pattani central mosque Yacob Raimanee had greatly contributed to community work and been highly respected by Thai Muslim people in the southern border province.
Imam Yacob was shot dead while travelling in his car with family members on a road in the provincial seat yesterday. Four men on two motorcycles approached his car and opened fire on him.
Lt Gen Paradorn said a preliminary report could not identify the gunmen, adding that the Muslim religious leader, or imam, was earlier the target of an attempted murder.
He said he would ask a militant group Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) through Malaysian officials to find out which group was responsible for the murder.
Malaysia has acted as a facilitator in the past few rounds of peace dialogue between Thailand and BRN leaders.
He admitted that Yacob’s death has raised concerns among operations officials in the South, adding that security measures and protection of people’s lives and property have become more stringent.
A few more factions of the BRN militant group have expressed interest in joining the peace talks, he said.
The NSC chief said the identities of militants who have lately instigated unrest and attacks in the South should become clearer in the next round of peace talks.