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12 June 2007

Three teachers killed in separate shootings in southern Thailand

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - Three Buddhist teachers were killed in two separate attacks in restive southern Thailand Monday, police said, blaming the shootings on Muslim rebels.

Two female teachers were killed when suspected Muslim insurgents launched a rare daytime raid on a school, police Lt. Watcharin Tancharoenrat said.
More than 200 students were in the Sakor elementary school in Sisakhon district of Narathiwat province, 800 kilometers (500 miles) south of Bangkok, when the attackers struck around lunchtime.
«The gunmen, believed to be Muslim insurgents, stormed the library and shot and killed two female Buddhist teachers,» Watcharin said of Monday's first incident. «Other teachers who were in the room said they ran after they heard gunfire and did not notice how many gunmen were there,» he added.
The acting head teacher Yupaporn Sengwat and an unnamed colleague were killed.
More than 70 Buddhist teachers working in government schools have been killed in Thailand's southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat since January 2004 when a long-simmering separatist movement took a turn for the worse.
Since then the region of about two million people has been seized by a separatist rebellion that has led to more than 2,300 deaths. The three provinces form the only Muslim-dominated area in the Buddhist-majority country.

In a separate attack Monday afternoon in Rangae district also in Narathiwat province, Sommai Laochareonsuk, 56, a Buddhist teacher at Sejah school, was killed when he was driving his motorcycle home, Police Lt. Col Chalerm Yingkong said.
Sommai died on the scene after a gunman on the back of motorcycle shot him. Police also blamed Muslim rebels for the attack on Sommai.
Muslims in southern Thailand have long complained that they are treated as second-class citizens. Police have said militants believe the government is trying to indoctrinate students with un-Islamic values at local schools.

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