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Elephant killing spree mystery deepens

Elephant corpses burned, tusks and genitals removed. But who's to blame?
Thailand elephant 2012Enlarge
Elephants stand in low-lying floodwater as they eat grass on the side of a street in the ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya on October 12, 2011. (Pornchai Kittiwongsakul/AFP/Getty Images)

Reports in early January of Thai elephants murdered and mutilated to supply underground restaurants were strange enough.

But a new piece in the Bangkok Post on the slain elephants suggests the case may involve a stateless tribe, government corruption and an ID card-for-poached tusks arrangement.

According to the Bangkok Post, officials believe five elephants have been killed though only two carcasses have been discovered. The Post's disturbing photo of elephant remains -- is that a dead elephant baby or decapitated elephant head? -- is here.

Who profited from the elephant deaths, however, is the subject of a dispute between officials, Thai villagers and members of a stateless and largely Christian Karen tribe native to neighboring Myanmar.

Among the allegations? The Karen tribesmen lacking enough bribery money to secure a Thai identification card "would hunt down an elephant in exchange for a card," the Post reports. The full details are here.