People show their support for anti-government protest
leader Suthep Thaugsuban during a march in central Bangkok.
Twenty-eight people have been injured at a camp of
anti-government protesters. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
Twenty-eight people have been wounded, seven seriously,
in explosions at a camp of anti-government protesters in
Bangkok, the latest violence in a prolonged political crisis
dividing the country and threatening the Thai economy.
The explosion comes a day after the military urged both sides
to settle their differences in the more than two-month long
dispute, in which protesters are trying to bring down the
elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
"There were 28 people injured from the blast at the Victory
Monument," Suphan Srithamma, director general of the Bangkok
Emergency Medical Centre, told reporters. "Among these seven
people were seriously injured."
Witnesses said they heard two explosions.
"The first blast I heard was from behind the stage," said
Teerawut Utakaprechanun, who told Reuters Television he had
been turning out for the protests every day.
"People were looking around. I saw the security guards
running after a suspect. After one minute I heard another
On Friday night, one man was killed and 35 protesters were
wounded in a grenade explosion in the capital. That takes to
nine the death toll since the protests started in November.
They form the latest episode in an eight-year conflict
pitting Bangkok's middle class and royalist establishment
against poorer, mainly rural supporters of Yingluck and her
brother, the self-exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
The protesters accuse Thaksin of nepotism and corruption, and
aim to eradicate the political influence of his family by
altering electoral arrangements, though in ways they have not
spelt out, along with other political reforms.
The firebrand leader of the anti-government protests, Suthep
Thaugsuban, spent much of Sunday leading thousands in a march
through Bangkok demanding that Yingluck resign, and
collecting bundles of cash from supporters in the streets in
what has become a trademark of his public appearances.
However, there are signs the protests against the government
could be running out of steam. The government has allowed
protesters to take over key buildings without confrontation
and, crucially, the military has so far remained neutral.
"Now all of us need to help each other in taking care of our
own nation," supreme armed forces commander Thanasak
Patimapakorn told reporters after Saturday's Army Day parade.
"The relationship between the government and the army is
normal ... We need to respect law and order. I myself respect
the law and I respect all sides and I request that all sides
should come together and talk to find a solution," he said.
Separately, the Bangkok Post daily quoted Thanasak as saying
he had no interest in becoming prime minister and acting as
Speculation has been rife that the military might step in to
end the impasse, which is beginning to take its toll on
Southeast Asia's second-largest economy.
The army has staged or attempted 18 coups in 81 years of
on-off democracy, but has kept out of the fray this time.
"Please, my fellow countrymen, please rise up and do our job,
which is to stop this wicked government from functioning,"
Suthep said late on Saturday, urging protesters to target
government buildings across the country and prevent civil
servants from working.
But there is little sign that the movement is spreading
beyond the capital and into the countryside, where Yingluck
has her political power base.
She has called an election on Feb. 2, which the main
opposition Democrat Party has said it will boycott. Even if
it did contest the election, most political analysts say
Yingluck's Puea Thai Party would almost certainly win.
Strong rural support has enabled Thaksin or his allies to win
every election since 2001.
The protesters accuse Thaksin and his sister of corruption,
and want Yingluck to step down to make way for an unelected
"people's council" to push through broad political reforms.
The latest demonstrations are the biggest since pro-Thaksin
protesters paralysed Bangkok in April and May 2010. That
movement ended with a military crackdown and more than 90
people, mostly protesters, were killed.
Pro-government "red shirt" protesters have stayed outside
Bangkok this time, limiting the risk of factional clashes.