5,000 troops deployed in far South for school term security

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BANGKOK, May 16 – 5,000 soldiers have been deployed in Thailand’s southern border region to ensure safety of teachers and students during the first semester of the new school year, according to Thai army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha.

The Royal Thai Army dispatched more than 5,000 soldiers to provide security at 400 schools in the southern border provinces, to escort education workers and students, at the start of the new semester.

Gen Prayuth however pointed out that uncertain schedules and routes from/to schools remained an obstacle for the protection measures as the teachers and students were susceptible to attack. Some residents, particularly teachers, preferred to travel without the protection and that also made the mission difficult.

The army chief explained that about 10 soldiers were deployed to protect teachers and students for each trip.

As a result, it was difficult for the soldiers to provide security thoroughly if the education staff travelled outside the planned routes.

The personnel stationed in the restive southern region were soldiers working on both community development and security, Gen Prayuth added.

Meanwhile, Tuesday’s meeting of the strategic committee responsible for the strife-torn southern border provinces categorised and grouped approaches for security and development in line with the National Security Council’s strategy, the army chief said.

Since the unrest erupted in the restive southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat in 2004, over 5,000 people, including civilians, soldiers, government officials and insurgents were killed.