Narathiwat teacher shot on way home

Fresh attacks prompt another school closure

A teacher was shot and seriously wounded in Sungai Padi district of Narathiwat province yesterday.

Thirapol Chusongsaeng, 52, a teacher of Ban Boko school in tambon Sako, was riding home on his motorcycle after school when he was attacked by a pillion rider on a trailing motorcycle.

The pillion-riding gunman opened fire on Thirapol, seriously wounding him.

Mr Thirapol was taken to Sungai Kolok hospital.

Meanwhile, Ban Ta-ngo school has been closed indefinitely after one of its teachers was murdered on Monday.

Chatsuda Nilsuwan, 33, was the 155th teacher killed in the violence in the predominantly-Muslim southern border region.

No students turned up yesterday morning. Most of the teachers went to Chatsuda's funeral bathing ceremony, in adjoining Yala province.

Chatsuda, who taught at Ban Ta-ngo school, was shot four times by a motorcycle pillion rider while she was on her way home from school.

Saki Sama-ae, the school's director, said his 14 teachers were frightened by the violence and they would meet to discuss how to best improve their safety.

Education Minister Phongthep Thepkanchana said he would travel to Pattani tomorrow to discuss with security agencies measures to better protect teachers.

Teachers from Yala and Narathiwat will also attend the meeting.

The Confederation of Teachers in Narathiwat yesterday met to assess the security situation.

Sa-nguan Intarak, the confederation's chairman, said the assailants wanted to target teaching staff to undermine education in the province.

He urged female teachers, who are new targets for militant attacks, to take extra precautions to improve their safety.

Mr Sa-nguan said schools in the province would stay open for now because security agencies had assured them of better protection.

Directors of schools hit by violence can close their schools for safety reasons at their own discretion, he said.

However, Mr Sa-nguan said if more teachers are killed or injured by militants, the confederation may consider closing all schools in the province.

Teachers at the 332 state schools in Pattani closed their classroom doors last week after a school director was slain in Nong Chik district on Nov 22. They had demanded better protection.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday met security agencies to discuss measures to solve the southern violence.

Paradon Pattanathaboot, secretary-general of the National Security Council, said the prime minister stressed that security operations and development of the southernmost region must be carried out in tandem.

Lt Gen Paradon said Ms Yingluck had directed the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre and the Internal Security Operations Command to meet tomorrow to find ways to integrate security and development.

Any conclusions will be submitted to the prime minister for further discussion with the appropriate committee.

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