Security in Pattani tightened before start of new semester

Khalid accompanying Mohammad Mentek (second left) and other Esscom senior officers during a visit to Pulau Adal near Lahad Datu.

THAILAND - Security has been increased in Pattani province to guard against future insurgency attacks on teachers in preparation for the new semester.

News of the beefed up security comes as a teacher was shot dead while driving in Pattani's Panare district on Wednesday.

This is the 174th teacher death in the decade-long insurgency in the far South.

Bunsom Thongsriphrai, chief of a teachers' federation in the far South, yesterday blamed lax security for the death of Phairat Jinsane, 50, saying that female Buddhist teachers remained vulnerable because they were soft targets.

"This has proved that all security operations still have loopholes in the far South - at all times and in every square inch," he added.

He said an evaluation of security measures by senior education officials would be conducted before next Friday when the new school semester begins.

Police said two men on a motorcycle shot Phairat when she stopped briefly, and left a note at the scene saying: "This will not be the last".

Phairat, whose funeral will be held at Wat Photharam in Panare, was described as an outstanding senior teacher at Baan Toowa in Ma-Yor district.

Meanwhile, police are following leads into one of the four men seen |in surveillance camera footage in |the double Hat Yai bombings on Tuesday, in addition to five other suspected insurgents possibly linked to attack.

The man, seen driving the pick-up truck that exploded at the Hat Yai Police Station car park, looks like an insurgent active in Songkhla who is on a watchlist, a police source said.

Suspect Jehma Wani, currently in custody, is said to be part of a 10-member group responsible for the blasts. He also allegedly planned the attack at Lee Gardens Plaza in Hat Yai in February last year.

Meanwhile, the head of the tour guides' association in Songkhla, Kul Sunthornwijit, said the double bomb attacks had adversely affected the tourism business, and room reservations had dropped by around 30 per cent.

National police chief General Adul Saengsingkaew and senior officers yesterday visited Hat Yai to oversee an investigation into the bomb attacks. He said security would be boosted in both inner and outer areas of the business district.

Yala police have called on residents to be on the lookout for auto theft after the motorcycle and pick-up truck used in the bomb attacks were reported as stolen in Yala.