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Thai Prime Minister visits insurgency-hit areas

Posted on Dec 14, 08:05PM | UNI

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has travelled to the country's insurgency-affected far south to reassure scared teachers who shut down schools again this week after targeted killings of educators in the region by separatist militants.

Ms Yingluck's arrival in Pattani province yesterday was marked by the distribution of leaflets carrying warning messages reading,"This war isn't over yet.

Don't count the teachers corpses yet".

A spate of murders of school teachers in militant attacks over the past week, forced school authorities in the three southern border provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani to declare closure of 1,200 schools for two days.

Scores of Buddhist school teachers in the Muslim-majority region have applied for transfers out of the area.

Over 150 teachers killed in the eight-year-old separatist violence are Buddhists, Deputy Education Minister Sermsak Pongpanich said.

More than 5,000 people have been killed in insurgency-related violence in the ethnically and linguistically distinct region which became part of Thailand during the redrawing of colonial boundaries in mainland Southeast Asia over a century ago.

A new generation of insurgents, inspired by Islamic militancy, are said to have given a violent turn to the century-old separatist movement anchored in generations of resentment at the subjugation of the region's distinctive Malay Muslim identity by the Thai-Buddhist state.

Media commentators and rights groups have noted that violent reprisals against Muslims by allegedly state-sponsored vigilante squads have complicated efforts to find a negotiated solution to the insurgent violence.