Thai kids' gang kills boy, 9

2010-09-01 10:14

Bangkok - A high school gang on the warpath fired gunshots at a Bangkok public bus on Wednesday, killing a 9-year-old boy as he bounded down the stairs on his way to school, police said.

Violence between rival vocational schools has been a long-running problem in Thailand and often has spilled into buses and shopping malls frequented by students.

Third-grader Jatuporn Ponpaka was headed to school alone on a bus on the eastern outskirts of Bangkok and dressed in his gym uniform.

He was exiting the bus at his stop when about 20 students from the Bangkapi School of Technology emerged from an alley and fired three shots at the bus, said Prasit Taprasitjit of the Min Buri police station.

The boy was hit in his head and chest. He was rushed to a hospital and died an hour later, said Rattikarn Jaroenmon, an official at Kasemrad Hospital's emergency room.

The shots were intended for a half dozen other students on the bus from a rival institute, the Bangkok School of Industrial Technology, Prasit said.

Notorious for fights

Witnesses said the same gang of students hurled beer bottles and bricks at the next bus as well, Prasit said.

"These two schools are located on the same road and are notorious for having problems and fights," said Prasit. "We are still trying to identify the culprits."

Thai PBS television station reported that a police search of the schools found several knives and other items that could be used as weapons.

Violence stemming from school rivalry has been a chronic problem in Bangkok and the outskirts, where most vocational schools are located.

In July, the Bangkok metropolitan police bureau called a meeting with officials from 28 educational institutes in risky areas to discuss violence prevention.