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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 March 2006, 07:12 GMT
Bangkok shrine attacker is killed
Erawan shrine after the attack
The shrine was covered with a sheet after the attack
A Muslim man has been beaten to death in Thailand after attacking a shrine in Bangkok which features a Hindu deity.

The man - who was reported to suffer from mental health problems - was set upon after smashing a statue of the deity Brahma.

Two men, reportedly cleaners at the shrine, have been charged with murder.

The Erawan shrine, built 50 years ago, is a popular site with tourists and devotees, who pay musicians and dancers to celebrate wishes granted there.

Police said that Thanakorn Pakdeepol, 27, broke into the shrine, which houses a four-faced statue of Brahma, early on Tuesday morning.

He used a hammer to destroy the deity, before being attacked by several men.

"After a scream from a street vendor shouting 'our father was destroyed', I saw three or four men arresting that man and beating him up," taxi driver Somyos Srikamsuk told Channel 3 television.

"He was unconscious, but still alive when police got there."

Sadness

Pakdeepol's father told Reuters news agency that his son had been in and out of mental hospitals for the past decade. The family said they had no idea what made him do it.

The shrine was built in 1956 to ward off bad luck from the nearby Erawan hotel, where the foundation stone had been laid on an inauspicious day.

Thousands of Thais from various religious backgrounds visit the shrine every day and return with gifts when they believe their wishes have been granted. Street vendors line the roads selling garlands and wooden elephants to be presented as offerings.

After the attack on Tuesday it was hidden, covered by a white sheet.

Brahma is worshipped by Hindus as the creator. People pray to him for everything from a new child to a lottery ticket.

Local people say the incident is unlikely to provoke revenge attacks, as there are few incidences of religious intolerance in Bangkok, says the BBC's Chris Hogg in the Thai capital.

But there was much sadness among the devotees clustered outside the locked gates to the holy site, who could not understand why the attack happened.




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