NARATHIWAT – Police say a roadside bomb planted by separatist insurgents has wounded two bodyguards who were escorting a group of teachers to their school in Narathiwat province today.
The explosion reportedly took place at around 2.30 pm on Sukirin-Wang Road in Wang district, when a convoy of school teachers and security officers were passing by.
The blast injured two armed volunteers who were riding a motorcycle ahead of the convoy, police say. Medical workers at Wang Hospital say they are in “critical condition.”
According to Pol.Lt. Kraiwit Somboon, a police officer at Wang Police Station, the IED was most likely planted by Islamic insurgents who were attempting to harm the public school teachers, presumably because they are viewed as instruments of a state education system teaching Buddhism to local children.
"We believe it's an attempt to cause daily attacks by those who have ill intention, with the goal of assassinating the agents of the state," Pol.Lt. Kraiwit said. He added that the suspected militants managed to slip away before security forces could react.
More than 170 public school teachers in Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat – an area known as the Deep South – have been killed since separatist unrest broke out in 2004. In total, more than 6,000 people have died in the insurgency, which has been waged by a variety of Islamic groups seeking to revive the independent Pattani sultanate that was incorporated into modern Thailand in the early 20th century.
The conflict is also fueled by ethnic and religious differences; in contrast to the rest of country, where the vast majority of Thais are Buddhist, the Deep South is dominated by Muslims who speak a Malaysian dialect and often consider themselves to be Malay, not Thai.
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