Teacher shot dead in restive Thai south

thailand-south-checkpointBANGKOK: A teacher was killed in a drive-by shooting Friday in Thailand’s far south, police said, the latest attack on civilians in the insurgency-plagued region.

The kingdom’s southern tip has been a hotbed of violence for the past 12 years as shadowy Muslim rebels fight for greater autonomy from the Buddhist-majority state.

More than 6,600 people — mostly civilians — have died in the conflict.

On Friday suspected militants opened fire on two civil servants who teach state-funded education programmes for adults in Pattani province, a local police officer said.

“One victim died instantly at the attack site,” said Noppasit Temongla, an officer from Mayo district.

The 49-year-old teacher, a Buddhist woman identified as Sunisa Boonyen, was driving to an educational event when two men on a motorcycle fired on her car, said Noppasit.

Her colleague, Chadaporn Sriseng, 52, was injured in the attack and hospitalised.

The ethnic Malay insurgents, who rarely claim attacks, have for years targeted teachers, local officials and other perceived collaborators with the Thai state.

Teachers often travel to and from school with security convoys in the border region’s most dangerous “red zones”.

On Monday one person was killed and 18 injured, including several children, by a bomb planted in a noodle shop in Pattani province.

The attack coincided with the 12-year anniversary of the death of dozens of local Muslims at the hands of Thai security forces, an event that kicked off the current insurgency.

Late October often sees a spike in attacks to mark the anniversary.

Thailand’s military government has tried to start a peace dialogue with rebel negotiators since its 2014 coup.

But little has emerged from the talks as analysts cast doubt on whether the insurgents’ representatives have full authority over fighters on the ground.