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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 November 2006, 11:28 GMT
Thailand 'rebels' attack schools
A Thai schoolgirl prays outside her burnt-out school, the target of an attack by separatist rebels (1 Nov 2006)
Schools are frequently targeted by separatist rebels
Suspected Muslim insurgents in southern Thailand have burnt down three schools and shot and wounded a teacher.

The attacks took place overnight on Saturday in the Muslim-dominated province of Yala.

They came after Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, installed in an October coup, apologised for the policies of the previous government.

More than 1,500 people have died in violence in the country's restive south since January 2004.

Three schools were completely gutted and a fourth badly damaged in the blazes which began almost simultaneously during the night.

VIOLENCE-HIT SOUTH
Home to most of Thailand's 4% Muslim minority
Muslim rebels fought the government up to the mid-1980s
Suspected militants have upped attacks since 2004, targeting Buddhists
Security forces' response criticised by rights groups

A police officer told Reuters news agency that four militants had shot the couple and their daughter from the back of motorcycles later on Saturday.

Schools and teachers are a frequent target as symbols of the distant Bangkok-based government.

Many teachers have even been issued guns to protect themselves.

On Friday, the new government ordered the release of 92 Muslims charged with taking part in an anti-government rally two years ago during which 85 protesters died while in army custody.






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