Stamp-down on rival college violence;Briefing International

23rd July 1999 at 01:00

Thailand's education ministry is set to send unruly students to a military boot camp following a wave of gang violence between rival colleges, in which two teenagers have been killed.

Bangkok police have threatened two-year jail terms for those caught fighting and carrying firearms, amid growing public concern at mass brawls in shopping malls and on buses in the Thai capital.

"From now on we will take drastic action against these teenagers," said lieutenant-general Wannarat Kotcharak, after two fatal shootings in less than a week.

One pupil was shot in a phone box, and another at point-blank range in a crowded bus.

A government committee, including representatives from the army, navy and police force, decided that students caught up in fights will spend up to six months in a military camp for a short, sharp shock.

This is despite earlier concerns that the measure could violate the teenagers' rights.

Education spokeswoman Dr Charuaypon Torranin said no one under 18 years old would face a jail term.

Officials also agreed to standardise uniforms - forbidding insignia and belt buckles that are identifiable with individual colleges: institutes which provide training in mostly technical skills for post-secondary students from age 16 up.

In the meantime, Bangkok police have increased patrols at 15 locations around the city, and recently rounded up 10 students aged 15 to 19, who were found threatening passers-by with homemade firearms.

The spate of violence has led to soul-searching in the national press and TV talk shows, about how to deal with unruly students in a country that usually prides itself on resolving conflicts in a face-saving, Buddhist fashion.

Teachers have also been targetted by students. A social science teacher at a secondary school in the western province of Kanchanaburi was wounded this week, when a 17-year-old pupil shot him in the shoulder with a 38mm pistol.

The assailant was said to be have been piqued at having his head slapped for not responding when the teacher called the


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