School kids see teacher murdered
Concerns over security for schools and villages as violence escalates
Officials gather evidence from the classroom in Ban Bue Rang, Narathiwat, where primary-school teacher Prasarn Makchoo was shot dead yesterday morning. Prasarn was the 44th teacher to be killed since the violence began in the deep South in January 2004.
A gunman shot dead a primary school teacher in front of his entire class yesterday morning.
The attack has increased fears that the authorities are incapable of properly protecting teachers assigned to the restive region.
The gunman, who went to the school with three other assailants, shot Prasarn Makchoo, 46, a Thai language teacher at Ban Bue Rang School in Narathiwat's Rusoh district, at close range with a .38 pistol. The four had disguised themselves in student uniforms to enter the school area undetected.
Prasarn took two bullets to the back and one to the head, killing him instantly. An investigator said the teacher still held a piece of chalk in his hand.
Prasarn is the 44th teacher to have been killed by suspected Muslim militants since 2004,
said Sa-nguan Jintarat, head
of the Narathiwat Teachers Association.
The murder is embarrassing for the authorities, as it comes just two months after the failure of security officials to rescue two female teachers badly beaten by a group of young men in the village of Kuching Reupah. The drama occurred amid a tense stand-off between village defence volunteers and residents, who were demanding the release of two men arrested earlier in the day on charges of being members of an insurgent group looking to split the Malay-speaking region from Thailand.
Yesterday's attack infuriated Narathiwat Governor Pracha Therat, who suggested that village defence volunteers assigned to the school may have cooperated with the killers.
Pracha did not elaborate to support his claim, but said there would be a thorough background check of all security details, as well as an inquiry into their conduct and failure to stop the killing. Guards would be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law if found guilty, he warned.
Pracha ordered all 42 schools in Rusoh district to be closed temporarily.
Two village defence volunteers and four defence volunteers working for district chiefs were posted at the school at the time of the drama.
The whereabouts of the school guards at the time of the shooting was not clear but Pracha told reporters that they did not have their weapons with them.
"Much has been done to stop such incidents - yet it still took place. It shows that the security team at the school was not efficient," Pracha said.
Thai security and intelligence officials in the restive deep South have been strongly criticised for failing to curb the ongoing violence.
The murdered teach-er had worked at the school for more than 20 years. His body was taken to Wat Pairojcha-naram in Rusoh district.
Prasarn is survived by a son and a daughter. His wife, Panyaporn Makchoo, 45, works at the same school. More than 1,400 people have been killed in the region since early 2004.