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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 April, 2004, 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK
Grieving begins in Thailand's south
By Kylie Morris
BBC, Pattani

Relatives of those killed in Wednesday's violence gathered under a tree at Pattani's main army base as they waited to collect the bodies of loved ones.

Relatives gather outside military base in Pattani, 29 April 2004
Some relatives had been waiting for several hours to identify loved one
They were taken in pairs to a make-shift morgue by soldiers to identify the men before they could load the bodies into trucks and take them home.

The pick-up trucks rolled in and out of the camp's gates all morning.

One family I spoke to were waiting for the body of their father - a man in his 50s - who they said had gone to pray in the mosque near Pattani town when he became caught in the violence.

Others said they were unsure if their loved ones were inside, merely that they had gone missing in the last day.

The Krue Se mosque has been another point of pilgrimage, with onlookers and mourners peering in the windows of the 16th century building where more than 30 people were killed.

Questions are being asked as to whether those deaths were necessary, with allegations that the authorities used undue force.

People at the Krue Se mosque said the dead there were armed only with machetes and that their lives should have been spared.

In reply, senior army officers have said that reporting of the mosque killings has been inaccurate. They said no rocket propelled grenades were used, and those inside were armed with more than machetes.

Speaking in Pattani, Thailand's Interior Minister Bhokin Bhalakula said the authorities faced a difficult situation as they did not know how well armed the men were.

The minister says Thailand must now work toward reconciliation with its Muslim minority.

However, those in the south will not easily forget the day on which more than 100 people died here.

The BBC's Kylie Morris
"The burial rituals have begun"

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