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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 February 2006, 11:36 GMT
Thai attacks intensify in south
By Kylie Morris
BBC News, Bangkok

Thai paramedics rush a seriously injured soldier, Jeerasak Sae-lim, 22, for aid at a hospital in Thailand's restive southern Yala province, 29 January 2006.
Teachers are being targeted in the attacks
Thailand's justice minister says insurgents in the country's south have intensified attacks to take advantage of the political crisis in Bangkok.

More than 100 schools have closed for the week in the province of Yala after three teachers were shot and seriously injured.

Justice Minister Chidchai Vansathidya says local authorities are doing their best to cope with the threats.

He admits teachers are now a soft target for insurgents.

Since the latest wave of violence began in the Muslim-majority south two years ago, separatist rebels have attacked Buddhist teachers at local schools.

They, together with monks and police, are considered symbols of the Bangkok government.

The army has moved to provide them with better protection as they travel to and from their schools.

But last Friday three teachers were shot and injured as they waited for military officers to escort them home. Despite the school closures another Buddhist teacher was shot and killed on Tuesday morning in Yala.

On Monday, two policemen and a defence volunteer were killed in the market in Yala by suspected militants.

The justice minister described the attacks as opportunistic and linked to demonstrations against the prime minister in the capital.

At the weekend an estimated 50,000 protestors gathered in Bangkok to call for the prime minister to be removed from office, many expressing their anger at a controversial business deal involving members of Mr Thaksin's family.

Another rally is planned for Saturday. Mr Thaksin says he has no plans to step down unless the country's king demands it.

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