Two suspects in a motorcycle drive-by shooting at a school in the south of Thailand were shot dead Saturday 12th January, police said, as the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) warned of trauma for the children who witnessed the lunchtime violence, AFP reported.
The drive by shooting Thursday's 10th January’s resulted in the killing of four Muslim guards of a school in Pattani province when the attackers struck just before lunchtime with students mere metres away.
The two people suspected of alleged ties to the school violence were killed in a shootout Saturday morning, 12th January. According to the Pattani provincial police commander, Piyawat Chalermsri, who gave no further information about their identities or affiliation, but said he was confident that they were the same group who carried out the attack Thursday by driving by on motorbikes.
The authorities have also detained one suspect, questioning five others, while a military source said an eight-year-old had been grazed by a bullet in the attack but not seriously injured.
UNICEF’s representative in Thailand, Thomas Davin, said on Friday 11th January that one child at the Bukoh school attack was reportedly injured by debris, and some who may have witnessed the attack could face long term psychological trauma.
"This attack has undoubtedly put the school children, the teachers and school personnel in harm’s way. It has put children at grave risk of injury or death," he said.
"Such violence could also affect parents’ willingness to send their children to school –- potentially to the detriment of many children’s learning and future development."
The clashes between Malay-Muslim rebels and the Buddhist-majority Thai state that annexed the area over 100 years ago have killed nearly 7,000 people since 2004, mostly civilians of both sides.
The 15-year insurgency has seen scores of teachers killed, slain for their perceived collaboration with the Thai state, which has led to the use of armed guards at schools.
The death toll in the conflict dropped to a record low last year, due to Thailand's junta’s tightened security operations, however recent weeks have seen an upturn in violence, as rebels show they remain able to carry out more pinpointed operations.
The main rebel group, the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), made a rare statement on January 4, where they swore to "keep fighting" while warning people not to help or support the state.
But the Thai authorities as well as the Malaysian facilitator of peace talks have recently expressed confidence they will make progress soon with the talks.
Former 4th Army commander Udomchai Thammasarorat said at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Thailand on Friday 11th January that he "wants to find a solution to exit from the violence" and he has urged the southern army commander to try and ensure the safety of the public.