A highly respected local abbot, Luangpor Uttama, died of natural causes a couple of months ago. People came from all over Thailand to mourn this great man. An interim abbot or head monk has been overseeing the temple and the ceremonies along with the royal family of which Luangpor Uttama was a friend.
Last night, the 68 year old interim abbot, Phra Kru Kanchanasitthisarn, was shot and killed. They do not know who shot the abbot except that he was Mon (an ethnic group) clothing. The reaction here is a bit strange...sadness, of course, combined with resignation. I have heard it a few times, "This is a border area, the killer will just disappear."
It remains to be seen if the killer will be found, but what is clear is people that my friends, who are from Burma, have lived with such limited rights for so long that they do not trust any government institution to protect anyone, even an important monk.