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Thai Muslim killed after smashing Hindu god image

Written by: Staff
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BANGKOK, March 21 (Reuters) - A mentally-ill Muslim smashed a landmark Hindu statue in central Bangkok, worshipped by people of many religions, and was then beaten to death, police said today.

Thanakorn Pakdeepol broke into the shrine housing the four-faced statue of Brahma, venerated by Hindus as the creator and to whom people prayed for anything from a child to winning the lottery, in the early hours of the morning, they said.

He then used a hammer to smash the statue, which has drawn tourists from around Asia to the shrine beside the five star Erawan hotel.

''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.'' Two cleaners of the shrine were arrested and charged with murder, Police Colonel Supisan Pakdeenarunart told the television station.

Thanakorn, 27, had been in and out of mental hospitals over the past 10 years, said his father, Sayan.

People who believed the statue had granted their wishes offer gifts, with carved wooden elephants the most popular, and pay for Thai classical dances, making the shrine a lively spot.

A sign at the shrine says it was built 50 years ago to protect the Erawan hotel because the foundation stone was laid on an inauspicious day.

REUTERS VJ RAI0730

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