Teacher shot and burned in Thai south

Teacher shot and burned in Thai south

BANGKOK - Gunmen shot dead a female teacher in insurgency-riven southern Thailand on Friday and set her body on fire, police said, in the latest attack on an education worker.

The 42-year-old was riding a motorbike to work at an elementary school in the Mayo district of Pattani province when she was attacked.

"Gunmen shot her and set fire to her body," a local police officer said by telephone.

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.

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