4 dead in attacks on anti-government protesters raises specter of increased violenceBy Bangkok Pundit Feb 24, 2014 2:01PM UTC
An apparent grenade attack against anti-government protesters occupying an upscale shopping area of Thailand’s capital killed at least two people Sunday, the latest violence in a months-long political crisis that is growing bloodier by the day.
The attack near the Ratchaprasong intersection in the heart of Bangkok, home to major shopping malls and luxury hotels, followed another assault on anti-government protesters in eastern Thailand on Saturday night that killed a young girl and wounded dozens of other people.
The attacks were the latest in a spate of protest-related violence roiling Thailand over the past three months, with at least 18 people killed and hundreds hurt. The protesters, who are occupying several key intersections in Bangkok, want Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to quit to make way for an appointed interim government to implement anti-corruption reforms, but she has refused.
The two people killed in Sunday’s attack were a 40-year-old woman and a 12-year-old boy, the Erawan emergency medical services center said. Another 22 people were injured.
On Saturday night, a 5-year-old girl was killed and about three dozen people wounded in an attack on an anti-government rally in the eastern province of Trat.
The perpetrators have not been identified in either attack. Both sides in the ongoing political dispute have blamed the other for instigating violence.
Saturday night’s attack in Trat, about 300 kilometers (180 miles) east of Bangkok, occurred as around 500 anti-government protesters were rallying near busy food stalls.
A 5-year-old girl died in the attack, said a nurse at Trat Hospital, Nantiya Thientawatchai.
Police Lt. Thanabhum Newanit said unidentified assailants in a pickup truck shot into the crowd and two explosive devices went off. It was not clear whether the protest group’s guards fought back. Thanabhum and other officials said about three dozen people were hurt, several critically.
BP: According to the Erawan Center, for Bangkok there were three deaths and 21 injuries with another death coming overnight/this morning meaning that the death toll for the weekend is four, with 3 of them being children (the two children who died at Rajaprasong were brother and sister).
Yingluck posted a message on Facebook in response stating that she condemned the use of violence that caused injuries and deaths especially at Rajaprasong intersection because it resulted in the death of a child which is lamentable….I want to express sorrow to those injured and to the family members of those killed. (ดิฉันขอประณามการใช้ความรุนแรงที่ทำให้มีผู้เสียชีวิตและบาดเจ็บทั้งที่จังหวัดตราดและโดยเฉพาะอย่างยิ่งที่บริเวณราชประสงค์ เพราะทำให้เด็กเสียชีวิต ซึ่งเป็นเรื่องที่น่าเศร้าใจและสะเทือนใจมาก ดิฉันขอแสดงความเสียใจต่อผู้ที่บาดเจ็บและต่อญาติมิตรของผู้ที่เสียชีวิต). These acts are acts of terror in order for political benefit without regard for human life (การกระทำเช่นนี้ถือเป็นการก่อการร้ายที่ต้องการสร้างสถานการณ์เพื่อประโยชน์ทางการเมือง โดยไม่คำนึงถึงชีวิตคน). The government will not allow this and I have ordered government agencies to find the perpetrators quickly and without exception [regardless of who they are] (รัฐบาลจะไม่ยินยอมและได้สั่งการให้เจ้าหน้าที่ที่เกี่ยวข้องดำเนินการหาผู้กระทำผิดโดยเร็วและไม่มีข้อยกเว้น).
However, a Chonburi red shirt leader went on the red stage yesterday afternoon and expressed joy over deaths of PDRC in Trat. Main red shirt leader Tida cuts him off soon after this and says that the reds don’t want to see people die but she says she understands his anger. Another red leader says doesn’t want any deaths and original speaker seems annoyed and walks off away from microphone .Thenother red leader then explains that local leader has anger due to the police officer being killed.
BP: A little unbelievable that someone could express such joy over the death of a child…
The Bangkok Post on PDRC leader Satit’s response:
PDRC co-leader Satit Wongnongtoey read out a PDRC statement shortly after the Ratchprasong bombing, claiming that the state is “backing” armed forces who attacked the protesters.
They believe the attacks were linked to the Civil Court’s ruling last Wednesday prohibiting the government’s Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) to disperse protesters and enforce regulations that violate protesters’ rights.
“These brutal attacks were the work of the servants of the Thaksin regime,” Mr Sathit said. Five violent incidents occurred from Saturday night until yesterday evening
The Bangkok Post on what Suthep said:
“They are so brutal that they can even murder a five year old. Neither incident could have been the work of any other groups, but were masterminded by the Thaksin regime in a bid to scare away protesters and make them go home.
“They did it because they are cornered now. They cannot use police to disperse [PDRC protesters] legally,” Mr Suthep said in an address to supporters at the Pathumwan stage.
“I don’t believe these were the acts of ordinary civilians who are unhappy with the PDRC. I don’t believe any fellow Thai citizens who still have humanity in them would do this.”
When he says he doesn’t believe fellow Thais would do this, Kom Chad Leuk has a direct quote from Suthep where he states “….we want Yingluck to repay Karma under the law, we will follow Yingluck until we meet in order to tell her that the bringing of foreign forces from Cambodia to kill Thais should not happen on Thai soil….”
BP: Not the first time that Suthep has made these claims.
The reds had a meeting yesterday and have been vocal in their response. Reuters:
Leaders of the pro-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) had vowed to “deal with” anti-government leader Suthep Thaugsuban, setting the scene for possible confrontation between pro- and anti-government groups.
“This fight will be harder than any other … You must think how we can deal with Suthep and those supporting him,” Jatuporn Prompan, a UDD leader and senior member of the ruling Puea Thai Party, told thousands of cheering supporters in Nakhon Ratchasima, northeast of the capital.
It was unclear whether Jatuporn was calling for an armed struggle, but he was speaking just hours after gunmen shot at an anti-government protest stage and threw explosive devices in the Khao Saming district of the eastern province of Trat, killing a five-year-old girl and wounding 41 people.
Thanawut Wichaidit, a spokesman for the UDD, said a strategy to counter anti-government protests in Bangkok had yet to be worked out, but that the movement wanted to avoid civil war.
“We want to fight peacefully, without weapons, but we have not yet decided how we will proceed and that is why we are meeting today to come up with a plan,” Thanawut told Reuters.
“The thing we are trying to avoid at all costs is a civil war and any kind of confrontation.”
New York Times has both Suthep’s statement the other day and that of Charupong of Puea Thai:
Suthep Thaugsuban, the main leader of the protest movement, warned the Red Shirts that they would be “served popcorn” if they came too close to protesters, a reference to a gunman allied with the protest movement who this month fired an assault weapon at government supporters and partly concealed the weapon inside a bag of corn seed.
Charupong Ruangsuwan, the leader of Pheu Thai, the governing party, told the gathering of Red Shirts on Sunday that in the “fight this time death will be real.”
Mr. Charupong, who is also the interior minister, said 10 million guns were registered in Thailand. “These are guns for self-defense,” he said. “If anyone underestimates the power of the people, you’ll know about it. I believe that we must be prepared to enter a decisive situation.
BP: Both sides are upping the rhetoric… No sign that behind-the-scenes talks are coming to any conclusion.