Gunman Kills Muslim Politician in Mosque Attack in Restive Southern Thailand

A gunman opened fire inside a mosque in Thailand's restive south, killing a Muslim politician who was among dozens gathered for evening prayers, police said Sunday.

The gunman entered the mosque in Pattani province Saturday evening and joined about 40 others who were kneeled in prayer. He then pulled out a gun and shot Madori Buraheng, a 40-year-old town official, at close range before fleeing on a motorcycle, said army spokesman Col. Akara Thiprote.

Authorities believe the attack in Pattani's Thung Yangdaeng district was politically motivated and not linked to a Muslim insurgency that has claimed more than 2,900 lives in Thailand's three southernmost provinces since 2004, Akara said.

"Initial investigations show that it might be connected to a local political feud and not the Muslim insurgency," said Akara. "It was definitely a targeted attack since no one else got hurt."

Drive-by shootings and bombings occur almost daily in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat provinces, the only Muslim-majority areas of the Buddhist country.

Muslims seen as collaborators with the government are targeted by the insurgent violence along with Buddhists.

Last May, gunmen sprayed gunfire inside a mosque in Songkhla province, which borders Pattani province, killing seven worshippers. Officials blamed Muslim rebels for the attack.