Teachers seek protection in South

PATTANI: Southern teachers will seek talks with provincial governors, the southern army chief, religious leaders and other security officials about getting better protection.

The Confederation of Teachers of Southern Border Provinces made the decision at a meeting on Saturday in Pattani after losing another one of their colleagues.

Nanthana Kaewchan, the 51-year-old director of Ban Tha Kam Cham School, was gunned down while driving home on Thursday in Nong Chik, Pattani.

She was the 154th teacher killed since the violence began in the South in 2004.

Teachers from the southernmost provinces meet in Pattani to discuss their security concerns after their colleague was gunned down on Thursday. (Photo by Pares Lohasan)

Boonsom Tongsriprai, the confederation chairman, said he planned to bring up the incident at a meeting of all parties involved with security to focus attention on teachers' safety.

The date of the talks has not been set but the group demanded to have Lt Gen Udomchai Thammasarorach, the Fourth Army chief, among the participants.

"With such a low morale, how can we continue working?" asked Mr Boonsom.

Boonchuay Thongsri, the organisation's chief adviser, pointed out that many teachers and educators had fallen victim to violence and demanded that someone be held accountable for their safety.

He advised the teachers to look after themselves as long as there are no effective measures to protect them from insurgents.

Mr Boonsom is also planning to ask the Teachers' Council of Thailand and the Federation of Teachers of Thailand to take the issue to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Education Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana.

The problem has severely affected the quality of education in the region, he added.

The deep South is still plagued by violence, including a bomb at a train in Rueso district, Narathiwat, on Nov 18. Security authorities were concerned about renewed attempts of militants to stir more violence in the district.

In a related development on Saturday, about 100 soldiers surrounded a village in Rueso district of Narathiwat after reports that members of Runda Kumpalan Kecil (RKK), an insurgent group, were planning additional attacks in the area.

The authorities were tipped off by local residents who reported that some strangers were living in a nearby rubber plantation.

Three men were arrested in the raid in which officers found a large cache of explosive devices including assembled bombs, propane tanks, fertilisers and electrical components.

Pol Col Dulyaman Yaena, the superintendent of Rueso Police Station, suspected that some of them were intended for a second wave of attacks in the district.

Pol Col Dulyaman also believed that the bomb used in recent attack on the Yala-Sungai Kolok train on Nov 18 was made at the plantation.

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Writer: Pares Lohasan, Assawin Pakkawan and Wadao Harai