Teacher patrol unit wiped out; seven soldiers die in restive Thai south


Yala : Seven Royal Thai Army soldiers were killed and one wounded Friday in a roadside bombing ambush by presumed insurgents in this southern border province.

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The eight-man teacher protection unit was enroute to a school when the bomb exploded near their vehicle. The assailants, waiting in ambush, then opened fire on the soldiers, killing all but one, before leaving the scene and strewing spikes along the route to obstruct the response of government security forces.

Local authorities called in a helicopter to evacuate the slain soldiers to a provincial hospital.

It was the second ambush in less than a month. Twelve soldiers were killed in a similar fashion on May 31, in an incident which was billed as the single most deadly attack on security forces in the three-year violence in the insurgency-wracked region.

In another incident, one soldier was wounded in an insurgent ambush in Yala’s Bannang Sata district on Friday.

Ten soldiers on patrol were ambushed by an unknown number of armed men, presumably insurgents. After exchange of gunfire, 2nd Lt. Pattapon Thaphun was wounded and rushed to a nearby hospital.

Also in Yala, another school was torched on Thursday night. Two buildings and a satellite receiver used in the schools distance learning via satellite project were damaged.

Police found a personal evidence link to a suspected arsonist, who broke into the school building and set fire to the building with gasoline. Banthungka School has 81 students and 10 teachers.

In the adjacent province of Pattani, a gunman on a motorcycle opened fire at a car, killing a local government chairman and two village heads. Another village head in the car was seriously wounded.

A bomb explosion Thursday night at a community football stadium in Pattani’s Yaring district during a match wounded five police officers assigned to provide security to spectators. Police blamed insurgents for the attack.

More than 2,300 people have been killed in the continuing violence in the predominantly Muslim southern border provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.