Insurgency targeting of teachers causes south Thailand school closures

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

With an increase in the number of insurgent attacks targeting teachers, many schools in Thailand's southern province of Yala have closed. The country's interior minister, Kongsak Wanthana, has given assurances that security measures will be strengthened and teachers will be able to return to work.

School closures were initially sparked with the shooting of four teachers at Ban Lue Mu school in Yala late last week. These had been teachers awaiting a military escort home, a fifth teacher was shot on his way home. Approximately 250 primary schools in Yala province were closed as teachers were afraid to go to work. The three southernmost provinces have problems in ensuring adequate educational cover as many teachers in the violence-torn area have sought transfers elsewhere in the country.

Attacks on those viewed as supporting the government have seen a recent increase in the area, with insurgents mounting attacks on motorcycles during the day in addition to remotely detonated bomb attacks. Since the start of February, the death toll exceeds one person per day. Generally identified as having started in early 2004, the insurgency in the predominantly Muslim provinces that border Malaysia are reported to have resulted in a death toll exceeding 1,000.