Pattani village head assistant shot dead, two wounded in three incidents

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PATTANI, Feb 19 – Violence in the restive South continued unabated Tuesday as a village head assistant in this southern border province was shot dead early today, while a teacher and a local villager were wounded last night in separate shootings believed to be the work of insurgents.

Police said 45-year-old village head assistant Somsak Surasit was gunned down by a passenger on a motorcycle while he was driving his motorcycle home in Khok Pho district this morning. He died instantly at the scene while the gunman fled.

The latest violence occurred after two other incidents had already taken place elsewhere in the province.

Police said Saman Eso, 55, a teacher at Ban Tupa School in the same district, was shot by a presumed insurgent while driving home. An unidentified villager also suffered a gunshot wound in another incident last night.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Phongthep Thepkanchana said he believed that planned use of the Internal Security Act to replace the Emergency Decree in the region would be an effective mechanism to prevent violent incidents.

He said existing security measures are sufficient for teachers with improved coordination among educators, security agencies and local administrative authorities.

Although there might be some violent incidents in certain areas in which teachers become victims, it is different from previous incidents in which insurgents intentionally killed teachers on school premises, the minister said.

Mr Phongthep added that the teacher shortage will no longer be a problem as some graduates in the area have volunteered to teach students and it is not necessary to enlist border patrol police to teach.