HAT YAI, Thailand – A Buddhist teacher was fatally shot on her way to school and then set ablaze Friday in southern Thailand, becoming the 170th teacher killed by suspected Muslim insurgents in the country's decade-long insurgency, authorities said.
The 42-year-old woman, who taught English at a rural school, was driving a motorcycle to work in the Mayo district of Pattani province when a gunman on the back of a passing motorbike killed her with two shots to the head, said police Maj. Gen. Pote Suaysuwan.
The assailants then doused her with gasoline and set her body on fire.
"She is apparently a victim of the insurgency, not personal issues, because the suspects scattered flyers with anti-Buddhist messages before they fled," Pote said. He said police were still searching for the suspects.
The teacher lived in the neighboring province of Yala and traveled to Pattani for work, a drive of more than one hour by motorbike. The school where she taught could not be immediately reached for comment.
More than 5,000 people have been killed in Thailand's three southernmost provinces since an Islamic insurgency erupted in 2004. The militants mainly target security forces but also kill others, including teachers, who are perceived as representatives of the government in predominantly Buddhist Thailand.