PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 January, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 January, 2004, 12:00am

Violence involving vocational school gangs grabs most education-related headlines in Thailand, but other perils stalk the schoolyards.

Last June was a particularly black month for students, with an outbreak of non-gang violence, including the Kingdom's first Columbine-style playground killing spree. Anatcha Boonkwan, 17, a fifth-form student at Pak Phanang school in southern Nakhon Si Thammarat province, went on a rampage with his father's 9mm pistol. He opened fire on a group of classmates, killing one boy and one girl, and leaving several others injured.

'It was terrifying,' said one survivor. 'His hand was trembling. He just kept shooting and shooting.' Three days later, a jilted sixth-form student in north-eastern Bangkok turned up at his girlfriend's house, produced a .38 handgun and shot dead the girl's uncle and dog, as well as wounding her grandmother. A day after that, a 14-year-old boy in eastern Sa Kaew province fired several shots during a playground brawl, injuring another student.