Violence in southern Thailand: 3 killed

A group of suspected Muslim militants opened fire at a police outpost Monday in Thailand's violence-ravaged south, killing three people, including a pair of volunteer village guards, officials said.

Four gunmen approached the provincial police station in the Banangstar district of Yala province and opened fire, said police Col. Anurut Himherb.

A gun battle ensued and lasted several minutes before the attackers fled, taking a stash of police weapons with them, Anurut said. Two volunteers and a third villager died in the attack.

More than 1,200 people have died in a Muslim insurgency that started in January 2004 in Thailand's three southernmost provinces, Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, the only Muslim majority areas in mostly Buddhist Thailand.

About 120 government schools in villages across Yala province were closed for the week to protest an attack by suspected insurgents that injured four teachers Friday, officials said.

"The teachers fear for their lives, and agreed to close schools for a week," said Sanya Suwanapho, head of the province's teacher's union. Schools in big towns remained open.

The attack came in spite of efforts to protect teachers. Some 8,000 police and soldiers had been designated prior to the attack to protect teachers on their trips to and from school, Sanya said, reports the AP.


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