Bomb blast in Thailand kills two
A bomb blast at a protest site used by anti-government demonstrators in Bangkok kills two people and injures at least 22 others.PT1M22S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-33ayw 620 349 February 24, 2014
Bangkok: A spate of deadly blasts has killed two children and maimed at least five others as pro-government supporters vowed to confront their rivals in Bangkok, deepening Thailand’s three-month political crisis.
The latest blast on Sunday night in an area of central Bangkok frequented by tourists killed a 5-year-old boy, a 40-year-old woman and injured 28 others.
Witnesses took video of two bloodied and unconscious children being carried to an ambulance. They underwent emergency surgery later in hospital.
Aftermath: A soldier photographs the scene of an explosion littered with blood and small pairs of shoes. Photo: AP
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has reportedly condemned the attacks in a Facebook posting, describing them as "terrorist acts".
Police said a grenade exploded near a tuk-tuk motorcycle taxi, just metres outside the Big C department store in the Ratchaprasong area that has been occupied by protesters for weeks.
As police and soldiers arrived at the scene a child’s sandal lay in blood a metre from a stall displaying “land of smile” T-shirts for sale.
A police officer points to possible evidence at the scene of the explosion. Photo: AP
Shortly after the blast people continued shopping and eating in the area, many seemingly oblivious to the carnage.
Foreign tourists with children were also seen in the area despite travel warnings by countries including Australia advising visitors to stay away from Thailand’s protest sites.
Six protesters were hurt Friday night by a grenade attack in the same area.
On Saturday night a 5-year-old girl was killed when gunmen attacked an anti-government rally in eastern Thailand.
Almost 60 people were injured in the attacks, many seriously.
A meeting on Sunday of 4000 pro-government Red Shirts agreed to mobilise opposition to anti-government protesters who have paralysed the government of the prime minister. The decision will escalate tensions because the Red Shirts have until now kept a low profile to avoid clashes that could provoke a military coup.
Leaders of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), the Red Shirts’ organisation, vowed at the meeting to “deal with” anti-government leader Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister who makes fiery nightly speeches calling for the toppling of Ms Yingluck and the political destruction of her elder brother Thaksin Shnawatra, who lives in exile to avoid a jail sentence for corruption.
“This fight will be harder than any other …You must think how we can deal with Suthep and those supporting him,” said Jatuporn Prompan, a UDD leader and senior member of Ms Yingluck’s ruling party.
It was unclear whether he was calling for an armed struggle.
Other Red Shirt leaders said a definite plan had not yet been finalised.
“The thing we are trying to avoid at all costs is a civil war and any kind of confrontation,” said UDD spokesman Thanawut Wichaidit.
The UDD is largely made up of rural supporters of Mr Thaksin, a polarizing figure in Thailand who was forced from office in a 2006 military coup.
Red Shirt leaders in northern Chiang Mai have threatened to send squads to Bangkok to fight if Ms Yingluck, Thailand’s first woman prime minister, is overthrown undemocratically. Mr Suthep has vowed to step-up his campaign against Ms Yingluck this week, declaring the “endgame” is near.
His latest tactic is to target businesses linked to the wealthy Shinawatra family. Ms Yingluck is facing a number of legal challenges which her supporters claim is part of a plot by a group of Bangkok’s influential elite to force her from office in what they are calling a “judicial coup”.
She has been summoned to appear before the country’s anti-corruption commission on Thursday to answer allegations of negligence over a subsidy scheme for rice farmers that has cost the country billions of dollars.
She says the scheme was set-up to benefit farmers and denies any wrongdoing.
The violence is the latest episode in an eight-year conflict that in broad terms pits two groups of Thai elites against each other, one led by Mr Thaksin and the other backed by Bangkok’s middle class and royalists.
Since November 19 people have been killed and almost 800 injured as the crisis has dragged down Thailand's economy and caused a collapse of the country's tourist industry.