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Thailand 22 August 2008

One reporter killed and another injured in double bombing in south

Reporters Without Borders is outraged by yesterday’s death of journalist Chalee Boonsawat of the national daily Thai Rath in a car-bombing outside a restaurant in the southern town of Sungai Kolok, near the Malaysian border. He was there to cover a bomb that went off 20 minutes earlier. Police said Phadung Wannaluck of Modern Nine television was injured by the blast.

“Setting off a second bomb to kill or maim the rescue workers and journalists who rush to the scene of the first bomb is absolutely despicable,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Those responsible must be identified and punished. We offer our condolences to Chalee’s family and friends, and we hope the Modern Nine reporter recovers quickly.”

Aged 64 and the father of four, Chalee was widely respected, did not hesitate to take risks and had contacts with the various protagonists of the conflict between government forces and Muslim separatists in southern Thailand, colleagues said. Thai journalist associations described Chalee’s death as a “great loss” and reaffirmed their determination to keep reporting the truth in the south.

The use of a second explosive device in bombings is frequent in southern Thailand. More than 3,300 people have been killed by bombs since 2004, when the separatist insurrection revived after a 20-year letup.

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