Teachers at 1,200 schools in the deep South have decided to suspend classes today and tomorrow following a spate of attacks by insurgents.
The Confederation of Teachers in the Southern Border Provinces (CTSBP) decided to suspend classes after meeting school administrators Wednesday.
The closure of all schools in 10 secondary educational service areas will allow security forces to review their performance, lay out plans to protect teachers, and hunt down the assailants, Boonsom Tongsriprai, the confederation chairman, said.
The confederation called an urgent meeting with school administrators in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat yesterday after a fresh insurgent attack on teachers earlier this week.
On Tuesday, five armed men entered Ban Ba-ngo school in Pattani's Mayo district and opened fire, killing the school director and a teacher.
Last week, one female teacher was also killed and a male teacher seriously injured in attacks in Narathiwat.
Mr Boonsom said security plans to better protect teachers must be rolled out by Monday.
The group also called for the transfer of both Muslim and Buddhist teachers in high-risk areas to safer locations.
Schools are expected to resume class on Monday if the demands are met, Mr Boonsom said.
The teachers would take further action if nothing is done, he said, without elaborating.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she will travel to Pattani today to gather first-hand information as well as give support to people affected by the violence.
The government has approved the deployment of more police in the South but this was not sufficient to solve the shortage of security staff there.
State agencies must stand ready to provide manpower and equipment to ensure public safety, Ms Yingluck said.
The prime minister will be briefed on the situation on her arrival in the deep South at Pattani City Hall this morning.
She will meet members of the Women's Development Fund and other groups at CS Pattani Hotel in the afternoon before travelling to Bang Lang Dam in Yala to preside over the inauguration of a bridge across the dam.
Paradorn Pattanathabutr, secretary-general of the National Security Council, said more than 4,000 police will be deployed gradually to the troubled region by April next year to help ease the shortage of manpower there.
Thongthong Chandrangsu, the permanent secretary of the Prime Minister's Office, said a new working group will be created to work on education programmes for the far South.
Piya Kijthavorn, deputy secretary-general of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre, said the agency will propose the Education Ministry encourage university graduates from the region to teach in the far South.
The Yala-based 12th Regional Education Office said 124 teachers and 34 education staff have been killed in the violence between Jan 7, 2004 and Dec 11 this year.
Meanwhile, a villager, Siteerohema Sama, 70, who was injured in a tea shop attack in Narathiwat's Rangae district a couple of days ago, has died from his injuries, taking the death toll from Tuesday's attack to six.
A combined force of 60 security officers yesterday combed Ba Ngoyare and Ba Ngolubo villages in Rangae district to hunt for the gunmen.
Sawawi Putae, 20, was caught during the raid after authorities discovered he was wanted for the theft of a pickup truck on Oct 18 in Yala's Bannang Sata district.
Officials believe the vehicle was to be used to make a car bomb for an attack in the deep South.
In other news, a young man was found shot dead on a local road in tambon Na Tham, Muang district of Yala yesterday morning.
Police said Abdul-Hafiz Sueni, 24, was found lying face down under his motorcycle. He had been shot twice to the body.
They believe he was shot while riding a motorcycle from his friend's house in the municipal area.
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