A teacher was shot and killed by Thai insurgents as he monitored more than 30 students in a school cafeteria on Wednesday.
According to the Bangkok Post, four men riding on 2 motorcycles pulled up in front of the Ban Tanyong School cafeteria. One of the men allegedly approached 51-year-old teacher, Chonlathee Charoenchol, claiming to be the parent of one of the students. The man then pulled a 9mm pistol and began firing at Chonlathee, striking him twice in the head. When officials arrived on the scene, they found Chonlathee lying dead just inside the door of the cafeteria. Police chief Colonel Pakdi Preechachon stated there were between 30-40 students in the cafeteria when shooting occurred. None of the children were injured.
Chonlathee is the 158th teacher killed in the southern part of Thailand since 2004.
A Washington Post report states that beginning in 2004 Islamist insurgents began targeting teachers in three of Thailand's southernmost provinces. The attacks have prompted officials to strengthen security measures and provide armed escorts for teachers traveling to and from school.
When addressing the Ban Tanyong School shooting, Army spokesman, Colonel Pramote Promin, told the China Post:
“This school is situated in an area where 100 percent of the villagers and all of teachers and students are Muslims.”
He went on to state that a lack of cooperation from villagers has made protecting the teachers extremely difficult “no matter how strict security measures are.”
Twenty-two-year-old Pvt Suthipong Poonsawat, a soldier with an eight man security team deployed to escort teachers to and from schools, was also shot on Wednesday. The shooting occurred as security team members were boarding a truck after stopping at a tea shop in Ban Pupo. A man hiding in a field across from the tea shop fired one shot from an M16 rifle, striking the soldier in the left hip.
Also on Wednesday, two men riding a motorcycle attacked a truck carrying seven students to Rueso kindergarten in Rueso. No students were reported to have been injured in the attack.
Immediately after the attacks, provincial education regulator, Attasit Rattanaklaew, ordered Ban Tanyong and 5 additional schools in the district to be closed indefinitely.