Thai officials say hundreds schools in the volatile southern province of Pattani will be closed in response to the murder of two teachers by suspected Islamist militants.

Officials say they will begin closing about 334 primary and secondary schools Monday because teachers and students fear for their safety.

Insurgents shot and killed two teachers on Thursday and Friday in Pattani. In one the incidents, gunmen set the victim's body on fire.

Officials say the schools will reopen once teachers regain their sense of security.

In neighboring Yala province, about 100 schools have been closed following the burning of a school buildings.

The insurgency in Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani provinces has killed some 16,00 people since January 2004.

The Muslim-majority region was an independent sultanate annexed by mainly Buddhist Thailand in 1902. Separatist violence has erupted periodically ever since.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.