PATTANI – A Buddhist Thai teacher was fatally shot on her way to school and then set ablaze Friday in southern Thailand, becoming the 170th teacher killed by suspected Muslim insurgents in the country’s decade-long insurgency, authorities said.
Siriporn Srichai, 42, was riding a motorcycle to work at Tabing Tingi community school in tambon Luboyirai of Mayor district when she was attacked by the killers around 9am, said police Maj. Gen. Pote Suaysuwan.
The assailants then doused her with gasoline and set her body on fire.
“She is apparently a victim of the insurgency, not personal issues, because the suspects scattered flyers with anti-Buddhist messages before they fled,” Pote said. He said police were still searching for the suspects.
The teacher lived in the neighboring province of Yala and traveled to Pattani for work, a drive of more than one hour by motorbike. The school where she taught could not be immediately reached for comment.
She was the 171st education worker to be killed during the decade-long conflict in Thailand’s Muslim-dominated deep south near the border with Malaysia.
The insurgency has claimed more than 5,900 lives—the majority of them civilians—in near-daily attacks including shootings, bombings and even beheadings.
Teachers are among those targeted by the shadowy network of militants for their perceived collaboration with the Thai state.
Experts say a recent spike in deaths is partly due to the stalling of peace talks while the Thai government struggles to deal with opposition protests in Bangkok.
The insurgents want a level of autonomy from Thailand, which annexed the region over a century ago.
They accuse Thai authorities of widespread human rights abuses and a lack of respect for their religion, culture and language.