There have been 45 school fires nationwide in the last 100 days in Thailand, and most of them were arson attacks, including all 18 school torchings in the restive deep south, the newspaper The Nation reported Thursday.
Thai police spokesman Pol General Ajiravid Subranbasaj was quoted as saying on Wednesday that there have been 84 fires in total reported across the country since September 1.
Of the 45 school fires, 14 of them were caused by electrical short circuits while the rest were arson attacks and politically motivated, Ajiravid said, condemning all arson attacks on schools as acts carried out by uncivilized people.
All 18 school fires in the three violence-plagued southernmost provinces -- Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani, were deliberate acts by insurgents, he said.
The insurgent violence, in forms of drive-by shootings, arson attacks and bombings on almost daily basis, have cost over 1,800 lives in nearly three years since January 2004. Teachers have frequently fallen victims to the violence in the region, with some 60 losing their lives during the period.
According to Ajiravid, the burning of schools in the north and northeastern provinces were clearly to copycat attacks in the deep south.
Recently, there have been several school fires reported in the north and northeastern provinces, former strongholds of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his Thai Rak Thai party. Supporters of the former administration were accused of creating " political undercurrents" to destabilize the interim government and its military backer the Council for National Security (CNS) who toppled the elected government of Thaksin in a bloodless coup on Sept. 19.
The CNS chief, Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, has earlier downplayed the school fires in north and northeast, saying that he believed those burning were just accidents and they had nothing to do with political movements.