Southern Insurgents Claim Police Gunfire Kill 2 Teachers

Many schools in Janae District shut down after the news that 2 local teachers have been killed.

(26 July) Armed militants
in the restive South are alleging that 2 teachers were shot dead by the police in Naratiwat Province
– an accusation denied by the Thai security forces.

The Thai police have shot Malay
teachers, who would take responsibility?, ask white banners hung along 3 major roadways in the
province – a favourite way of communication by the shadowy insurgents who are thought to be
advocating an independent state in the region populated by Malay ethnics.

According to the
Thai security forces, however, the 2 teachers,
Ms. Nusyahan Awae and Ms. Nayiha Yira were victims of
roadside bomb attack caused by the insurgents on 24 July in Janae District that were intended to
kill police officers who were escorting the teachers to their school but missed the target.

2
police officers and 1 other teacher who was travelling with Ms. Nusyahan and Ms. Nayiha were also
reportedly injured by the explosions. They are currently staying in hospital.

Accounts of
what really happened differed even among the Thai officials.  Spokesman of the local detachment
of Internal Security OperationsCommand (ISOC) said the explosion killed the 2 teachers who were
riding in a separate vehicle.

However, one of the injured police officers painted a
different picture. After the explosion, he said, the car driven by the teachers drifted into the car
of police officers, causing much panic among the officers. The officers then reportedly shot their
firearms in directions.

The officers also fired at the car where the 3 teachers were driving,
the injured policeman said, because one of his colleagues thought the insurgents were hiding in the
vehicle.

The injured officer insisted nevertheless that no bullets hit the teachers? car. He
said the bullets made damages in some buildings but did not make a scratch on the teachers,
stressing that they were killed by the insurgents bomb attack.

Mr. Aphichart Benjulamart, the injured
teacher, is now in the coronary care unit (CCU) in Janae hospital and is not fully recovered from
his head injury. His right side is still numb, and could not give any details about the incident
yet.

This morning, Mr. Aphinand Suethananuwongse,
governor of Narathiwat province, Dr. Med. Anake Yomchinda, director of Central Institute of Forensic
Science, with some police officers visited Mr. Aphichart in the hospital, blessing him with
well-wishing messages and explaining the details of the incident to his families, so they “will not
fall into the trap”, in the words of a police officer at the hospital.

To complicate the
matters even further, Mr. Aphinand and a number of high-ranking officers later met with
representatives of communities in Janae District where he apologized to them about the 2 teachers?
death, explaining that the police officers resorted to firearm by instinct in the moment of panic
and that they did not intend to shoot at the teachers.

Local officials told our
correspondent that they have been doing public relation works in order to gain understandings from
the public. The autopsy also reported that the body of the victims do not have any single shots from
police ammunition, according to the officials.

The incident appeared to contradict the
ceasefire agreed between the Thai authorities and the National Revolutionary Front (BRN) that is
supposed to last throughout the Ramadan season.

The Southern provinces of Naratiwat, Yala,
and Pattani have been hotbeds of suspected Islamic separatists for years. The BRN, one of many
insurgent groups suspected to be operating there,  has called for independent state of Pattani,
covering the 3 provinces, but the Thai government has repeatedly denied that demand.