[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 23 December, 2004, 11:37 GMT
Thai teachers strike over attacks
Thai security forces
Security is tight across southern Thailand amid continuing unrest
Thousands of teachers have gone on strike in southern Thailand, urging the authorities to do more to protect them from attacks by Muslim militants.

Teachers say they are perceived by the rebels to be representatives of the Buddhist-dominated administration.

Bangkok said it would send 2,000 extra policemen south to boost security.

The move came as a senior Thai security official said intelligence suggested militants were planning attacks on the country's tourist spots next year.

One of the main focuses of the southern violence which began almost a year ago has been schools. Hundreds have been burnt down and a number of teachers have been killed.

Home to most of Thailand's 4% Muslim minority
Muslim rebels fought the government up to the mid-80s
Suspected militants have upped attacks this year, targeting Buddhists
Security forces' response criticised by rights groups

Muslim community leaders complain that the school curriculum forces their children to follow Buddhist principles. The teachers say they have no control over a schooling system which is regulated by Bangkok.

Teaching unions in the provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala called for a strike following the deaths of two colleagues in one day.

"Teachers and students are too scared to go to school," a Pattani education official told the Associated Press.

Pattani teachers said the strike, which has closed at least 300 state schools in that province alone, would continue until their safety was guaranteed.

The government responded to the strike by saying police reinforcements would be deployed on 1 January, and would remain in operation for at least a year.

But the BBC's Tony Cheng in Bangkok says the proposed move is unlikely to satisfy the teachers - who have already seen a large increase in security forces, but no end to a conflict that has left nearly 600 people dead.

The announcement of more troops comes amid comments by General Kitti Rattanachaya, a senior security adviser to Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, that intelligence reports suggested separatist groups were planning attacks on "soft targets" outside the south, such as the resorts of Phuket and Pattaya, in 2005.

"The situation will be terrifying as the terrorists open war on all fronts to divert attentions from the southern area," Mr Kitti told the Associated Press.

But Mr Thaksin dismissed the comments as speculation.

Takbai inquiry

Tensions in the south have been inflamed by the authorities' response to a Muslim protest in Takbai in October, which led to the deaths of 78 demonstrators in police custody.

A government-backed inquiry into the incident found that the deaths were not deliberate, but Mr Thaksin admitted on Wednesday that the panel had also found that official negligence was partly to blame.

He said senior officials failed to do their jobs, and left it to subordinates to handle the protest's outcome.

Thai army denies protest claims
09 Nov 04 |  Asia-Pacific

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific