Female teacher gunned down

Arson attack in Pattani mars school reopenings

A 32-year-old female teacher was shot dead in Narathiwat's Cho Airong district Tuesday despite security being beefed up for teachers in the deep South.

Security officers inspect a torched teachers’roominBan Thasu school in Pattani’s Panare district. Assailants rounded up staff on guard at the school before setting fire to one of the buildings. PAREZLOHASANT

Chatsuda Nilsuwan, who taught at Ban Ta-ngo school in tambon Marue-ok, was shot four times by a motorcycle pillion rider while she was on her way from the school back to her home.

Witnesses told police the teacher was travelling on her motorcycle alone without military protection because she had finished work later than normal.

An arson attack at a school in Pattani's Panare district yesterday also marred the reopening of the province's 332 schools which had closed for a week in protest following the fatal shooting of a teacher on Nov 22.

The attack was carried out by 15 armed men wearing black and it destroyed a teachers' room.

The 15 assailants entered the school about 1.20am, and rounded up staff who were on guard duty.

They tied up the staff and left them on the front lawn while they set the building on fire.

"They told us in the Melayu dialect that they would torch the school and ordered us to keep our mouths shut," Dolo Hama, a school employee, said.

Firefighters called to the school were able to put out the blaze before it spread further.

Teaching equipment including 18 tablet computers distributed under the One Tablet Per Child scheme, kept inside the teachers' room, were damaged.

The 332 schools in Pattani's Panare district closed their doors last week after a school director was shot and killed by an armed gunman in Nong Chik district on Nov 22.

The Confederation of the Teachers of Southern Border Provinces agreed to resume classes yesterday after the Education Ministry assured them of better protection.

Ban Thasu school stayed closed yesterday. Six other schools in Sai Buri district also decided to extend their closure for security reasons.

Security officers provided escorts for teachers on their way to work to boost their confidence.

Meanwhile, violence continued in Pattani Tuesday.

Abdulhami Saha, 45, a government informant, was shot by a pillion rider on a motorcycle while riding his motorcycle from a rubber plantation in Sai Buri district.

In Khok Pho district, a woman identified as Sanguan Phetson, 59, was found dead with multiple knife wounds in a rubber plantation.

Police are investigating the murders.

The Cross-Cultural Foundation, a rights group, called on the government to allow suspected rebels to defend themselves under the normal judicial process.

The government has allowed suspects to surrender and undergo a six-month rehabilitation programme without having to face legal action, under Section 21 of the Internal Security Act.

Five suspects who refused to undergo the rehabilitation course have been denied bail, the foundation said.

Pupils help to remove burnt books after their school was ravaged by a fire set by an insurgent gang of men in Pattani on Monday. (Reuters photo)

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