NARATHIWAT – Muslim insurgents set off a bomb outside an elementary school in southern Thailand on Tuesday, killing three people, including a man and his 5-year-old daughter, whom he was dropping off for kindergarten.
The incident was the latest in a series of attacks that coincide with efforts to hold peace talks between Thailand’s government and Muslim separatist insurgents who have wreaked havoc across the country’s southernmost provinces since 2004, at a cost of more than 6,000 lives.
Other recent attacks have included bombings across seven provinces popular with tourists that killed four people, and an explosive detonated on a rail line that derailed a train car and killed a railway worker.
Preliminary investigations into Tuesday’s incident show that a suspect drove a motorcycle and parked it in front of a small store across from the school in Tak Bai district of Narathiwat province, police Lt. Col. Noppadon Kingthong said.
He said the bomb was placed in the front basket of the motorcycle and was detonated remotely.
The targets were traffic policemen and people dropping off their children at the Baan Ta Baa School, Noppadon said.
In addition to the father and daughter who died of their injuries while being taken to a hospital, a 23-year-old man who was one of eight people hospitalized died of his injuries. Three of those hurt were police personnel and one was from the military, Noppadon said.
Thailand is overwhelmingly Buddhist, but its three southernmost provinces have Muslim majorities who have long complained they face discrimination.
A statement from UNICEF, the United Nations’ children’s advocacy organization, said it was “shocked and saddened” by the incident.
The group Save the Children urged greater protection for children and educational institutions.
The Associated Press