Baby, Teachers Among Six Dead in Thai Shootings

W460

Six people, including a one-year-old girl and two teachers, were gunned down in separate attacks on a teashop and school in Thailand's insurgency-plagued south on Tuesday, police said.

Gunmen sprayed bullets at villagers as they were having breakfast at the teashop in Narathiwat, one of three southern provinces to have suffered nearly nine years of unrest, killing the child, a 25-year-old woman and two men aged 37 and 70.

Four others were injured in the shooting, including a 10-month-old boy.

"We found 62 bullets fired at the scene," local police chief Captain Boonsak Numad told Agence France Presse, adding that at least three people were thought to have been behind the violence.

In a second attack later Tuesday, a headmistress and male teacher were shot and killed as they had lunch in the staff cafeteria of a school in Pattani, the latest attack targeting educators.

Police said the group of at least six gunmen stole a school vehicle to make their getaway.

Hundreds of schools in Pattani and Narathiwat have staged brief closures in recent weeks to protest at the risks facing educators, more than 150 of whom have died in the insurgency.

Militants view the school system as an effort by Bangkok to impose Buddhist culture on the Muslim-majority south. Teachers working in non-religious schools are frequently targeted because they are seen as a symbol of government authority.

Thailand's southern unrest has claimed more than 5,300 lives, both Buddhist and Muslim, since it reignited in 2004, with near-daily bomb or gun attacks.

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