RESTIVE SOUTH: 100 schools to shut for a week
Published on May 22, 2006 -
A soldier uses a metal detector to examine an object that turned out to be a fake grenade in Narathiwat’s Rangae district yesterday. The suspicious object was found near a road frequented by local officials. Violence continued in the deep South yesterday,
Brutal beating of 2 teachers heightens fears of further violence; top Army chief offers to quit over latest attacks
School administrators yesterday agreed to close 100 schools in Narathiwat's Education Zone 1 for a week following Friday's brutal beating of two teachers, one of whom remains in a coma, while the region's top Army officer offered to resign over the incident.
Thawat Sae-Hum, president of Narathiwat's Teachers Federation, said the decision to close half the schools in Narathiwat's Education Zone 1 this week stemmed from continued fear of violence among teachers in the area.
"We agreed to stop teaching in 100 schools in Education Zone 1,"he said, noting there were 199 schools in Zone 1, which covers five districts including Rangae.
The move would also help officials hunting for the attackers, as they would not have to worry about providing safety to teachers at the schools, he said.
Teachers would hold a meeting today to evaluate the situation and come up with a security strategy of their own.
"We will not adhere to the plans of the security forces anymore. It is clear that their plans don't work," he said.
Fourth Army Region commander Lt-General Ongkorn Thong-prasom said yesterday he was ready to resign over the incident if his superiors want him to quit.
General Ongkorn said he had submitted a report to his supervisor and was ready to face the consequences.
"I am deeply sad that such a brutal incident took place. As chairman of the Southern Border Provinces Peace-Building Command (SBPPC), which is in charge of providing security to people in the three southernmost provinces, I would like to take all responsibility," Ongkorn said.
But he insisted every official had tried their best to provide security to the people in the region.
On Friday, Juling Pangamoon, 24, and Sirinart Thavornsuk, 30 - both teachers at the Kuching Reupoh elementary school in Rangae district - were taken hostage and beaten by villagers demanding the release of two men arrested earlier on the same day.
Juling was beaten particularly badly and remains in a coma.
"The patient's brain is severely damaged. She remains unconscious. Even though she can breath partly by herself, she still needs a ventilator," said Associate Professor Dr Sumet Peerawut, the chairman of Songkhla Nakarin Hospital.
Meanwhile, two rubber tappers were killed in separate incidents in the troubled region yesterday.
Sama-ae Aree, 52, was killed while riding his motorbike home in Yala's Bannang Sata district.
Investigating officials said two teenagers riding a motorbike approached Sama-ae from behind and fired four shots from an 11mm pistol.
The bullets went into his mouth, right shoulder and right hip. Sama-ae was sent to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
In Rangae district, an elderly couple was shot while riding a motorcycle to their rubber plantation. Somboon Ratchasuwan, 69, died at the scene while his wife Tem Samsao, also 69, was seriously injured, officials said.
She was sent for treatment at Narathiwat Ratchanakharin Hospital. Police believe Muslim militants were behind the attacks.