End attacks on children in Thai south: UN

December 13, 2012 - 7:16:04 am

BANGKOK: The UN yesterday called for an end to violence against children in southern Thailand following the “senseless and unacceptable” shooting of a baby girl in a region racked by nine years of unrest.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) condemned Tuesday’s attack on a tea shop in Narathiwat that killed the infant and left a 10-month-old boy injured, in a rare statement on an insurgency that has killed thousands in three provinces bordering Malaysia.

The shooting, in which gunmen sprayed bullets at villagers who were having breakfast, was “a tragic, senseless and unacceptable act”, said Bijaya Rajbhandari, UNICEF representative in Thailand.

“Every time a child is killed or injured, every time a child loses a parent or relative, and every time their schools and teachers are attacked, the more all children in the deep south suffer,” he said. 

“Bringing an end to the violence is the only way to ensure that the rights of all children in the south are fully protected and respected.” 

Near daily attacks — including shootings, bombings and even beheadings — mean violence is a part of life for many in Thailand’s Muslim-majority southern provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala.

More than 5,300 people, both Buddhist and Muslim, have been killed since the unrest reignited in 2004.

The fighting has claimed the lives of more than 50 children, with around 340 injured, according to the UN.

Tuesday’s tea shop attack left five people dead, while a headmistress and teacher were also killed in a separate shooting in Pattani.

Militants view the education system as an effort by Bangkok to impose Buddhist culture.