Teacher shot, burned in Thai south

A teacher was shot dead and his body set on fire by suspected militants in Thailand's insurgency-ridden deep south, police said Wednesday.

The 37-year-old Buddhist was shot three times in Raman district of Yala Province on Tuesday afternoon while riding his motorcycle to a special class on what was an Islamic religious holiday, they said.

He was the 146th teacher killed since shadowy insurgents launched an uprising in Thailand's southernmost region in early 2004, leaving more than 4,700 people, both Muslims and Buddhists dead.

Critics accuse the government of failing to address the grievances of Thailand's Malay Muslims, including alleged abuses by the military and a perceived lack of respect for their ethnic identity, language and religion.

Education workers, viewed as a symbol of government authority, are a top target for insurgents in the Muslim-majority southern provinces.

Militants view the school system as an effort by Bangkok to impose Buddhist culture on the south. Teachers are often escorted to work by soldiers and schools are watched by armed guards.

In separate attacks in neighbouring Narathiwat province, a couple in their 30s were killed in a drive-by shooting Tuesday while five others -- including a Malaysian national -- were wounded after gunmen open fire on a tea shop


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