AP:

Panicked teachers in Thailand’s restive south stayed home from school Wednesday after two teachers were killed in broad daylight amid threats from suspected Muslim insurgents that 20 would die.

On Tuesday, a husband and wife, both Buddhist and primary school teachers at a public school, were riding to a morning market on a motorcycle before school started when they were shot and killed in a barrage of bullets fired from a suspected insurgent on the back seat of a passing motorbike, police said.

Their deaths raised the toll of teachers and school workers killed by the violence to 135.

The killings were foreshadowed by an ominous warning several days ago when anonymous fliers were distributed in Narathiwat villages that said: “WANTED: 20 Deaths of Buddhist teachers,” said Sanguan Inrak, president of the teacher’s federation.

“Teachers here are scared,” said Sanguan, who called the warning messages a “regular tactic” by insurgents and the latest illustration of the need for greater protection for teachers, many of whom travel to work with security guards.

BP: In the aftermath of the deaths and threats of more deaths, more than 400 schools in Narathiwat (one of the three southern border provinces where the violence is taking place) announced they were closing for three days for safety reasons. Buddhist monks and teachers (either Buddhist or Muslim – it is more that they are working in state schools) have been targetted since 2004 because they are seen as representing the central Thai state. Think about it. If parents cannot send their children to state schools as the teachers are too scared then, what options are left for parents? Simple. Private islamic schools which are spared from violence.