2 Teachers Killed in Thailand's Violent South

PATTANI, Thailand-- Suspected Muslim insurgents killed two teachers Tuesday in insurgency-plagued southern Thailand, raising the possibility that schools could be closed over security concerns.

Police Lt. Nontakorn Tiewtrakul said two gunmen on a motorcycle shot the two teachers -- a husband and wife -- who were on their way to a market in Narathiwat province.

More than 4,200 people, including 108 teachers, have been killed since 2004, when an Islamist separatist insurgency erupted in Thailand's three southernmost provinces.

In response to the latest deaths, leaders of local teachers associations met with security agencies to seek urgent protective measures, with military and police forces asked to provide safety for teachers during non-working hours. Soldiers already accompany many teachers on their way to and from school.

Narathiwat Governor Thanon Vejkorakanont said the deaths "had a significant impact on the morale of teachers in the areas," adding that school administrators could decide to suspend operations or take other actions as deemed appropriate.

The parties involved were to meet again Thursday to decide if school closures would be necessary.

Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala, the provinces affected by the violence, are the only Muslim-majority areas in predominantly Buddhist Thailand. Muslims there have long complained of discrimination by the central government.