Narathiwat (Asianews/Agencies) At least two men dressed as students yesterday entered a school in southern Thailand and killed a teacher in front of his students. This was revealed by police today. Suspicion has fallen on separatist Islamic militants: police believe the bloody murder of Prasarn Makchu was in revenge for the arrest of four suspected insurgents in Ban Salo on 20 July.
The 46-year-old teacher was shot in the head and in the back while he was teaching at Ban Buerang school in Rueso-Narathiwat road, where he had worked for the past 20 years. After the attack, the authorities closed 20 schools in villages across the province.
The Education Minister has already given 50,000 baht (just over 1,000 euros) to Prasarn's family. Going to Narathiwat, Chaturon Chaisaeng urged the population to help the authorities ensure the safety of teachers in their communities.
Since January 2004, clashes between separatists and government forces in the three southern provinces where the people are largely Muslim and Malay have claimed more than 3,000 lives. Teachers are among the main targets because they are held to be vehicles of transmission of Buddhist culture. The militants are fighting for secession in the southern regions and the creation of an independent Islamic state.
Meanwhile, the Defence Minister in Bangkok, Thammarak Isarangkura na Ayudhaya, has denounced a lack of coordination and shared vision between the police, army and local authorities to combat the violence in Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala. Last month, the national reconciliation commission an initiative wanted by Premier Thaksin Shinawatra himself proposed a series of "pacific" measures to stop the clashes. But Bangkok paid no attention and on 18 July it decided to extend the state of emergency in place in the south since 2005. This gives wide powers to the security forces and the premier, assuring them, among other things, of immunity for possible crimes.