Schools torched in south Thailand

Muslim fighters accused of arson attacks and killing of police officer.

    Schools are frequently targeted in
    attacks in southern Thailand [Reuters]
    In the neighbouring province of Narathiwat, police officer Suriya Malaimal was shot more than 10 times as he approached his motorcycle parked at a crowded market, a police spokesman said.
    Thailand's troubled south

    Muslims make up 90 per cent of population in four southernmost Thai provinces: Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla


    Region was semi-autonomous Islamic Malay sultanate annexed by Thailand in 1902


    Several violent uprisings over the century


    Muslims complain assimilation policies have restricted Malay customs


    Tough approach by former PM Thaksin Shinawatra dimmed hopes of resolution


    Government imposed martial law in 2004


    Near daily attacks blamed on Muslim fighters have left about 2,200 people dead, including many Muslims

    Lieutenant Banlae Chuvet said six gunmen were involved in the attack.
    "Initial investigations show he was killed by Muslim insurgents," Banlae said.
    He added that that the attackers stole the officer's gun.
    Elsewhere in the south, a roadside bomb exploded, injuring two policemen.
    The police had been deployed to protect teachers as they travelled to a school in Yala province, officials said, adding that the blast was triggered by mobile phone.
    Teachers, like schools, have been frequent targets of attacks in Thailand's south.
    An uprising in Thailand's southern Muslim-majority provinces has left about 2,200 dead since it flared in 2004.
    In a separate development on Friday, Thai railway officials resumed services to southern Thailand, four days after suspected insurgents sabotaged tracks causing a train to derail in Pattani province.
    About half the usual number of passengers used trains in Pattani and nearby Yala and Narathiwat provinces, despite an increased police and army presence at stations and junctions along the tracks, said Thanongsak Phongprasert, the railway's southern office director.
    Train services in the three southernmost provinces were suspended on Monday after the line in Pattani was sabotaged, derailing a train and wounding nine of the train's hundreds of passengers.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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