This post is the latest in a series from our Bangkok correspondent, H. Numan.
From The Bangkok Post:
School builders killed
Southern rebels on Thursday ambushed and killed a five-member, unarmed Buddhist work crew, including two women, on their way to build and repair an Islamic school in Pattani province in the deep South.
Police said the attackers hid at the side of the road just outside the grounds of the Yarang district school, which is closed for summer break.
When the workmen approached in their pick-up to begin their morning work at about 9:20 Thailand time (0220 GMT), an estimated 20 insurgents armed with M16 rifles fired on the truck to stop it and then kill the five workers. A sixth worker was shot and seriously wounded.
The German news agency dpa quoted Pol Col Poonsak Prasertmate of Yarang station as saying, “This attack was obviously planned in advance. They must have been observing the workers for days.”
The insurgents escaped cleanly after the murders, scattering nails on the road to slow down any possible pursuit.
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An army spokesman, Col Acra Tiproch, said the work team was to make repairs to the school.
“About half past nine, a pick-up truck was carrying the workers to build a fence of a school. Two motorcycles came and opened fire on to the truck,” said Col Acra. Other insurgents emerged from cover beside the road and continued the attack. The workers had no weapons.
It was one of the most brutal attacks of the year, and continued the insurgent pattern of intimidation against schools, apparently seen by the Islamist rebels as a symbol of the Bangkok government.
The attack came as Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej was visiting Malaysia on Thursday to discuss the violence in the South with his counterpart Abdullah Badawi.
Mr Samak was to ask the Malaysian premier for help by extraditing two most-wanted separatist leaders believed to be living in Malaysia.
This was Bangkok reporting,