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BLACK SATURDAY

Eleven died from gunshot wounds



Eleven civilians who died during the violent clashes between red-shirt demonstrators and soldiers on Saturday night were victims of gunshot wounds, while another succumbed to heart failure, autopsy results revealed yesterday.

The autopsy results on Japanese photographer Hiro Muramoto of Reuters news agency, killed by a bullet in the back, have not been released in detail at his relatives' request.

The autopsies were performed jointly by forensic scientists and doctors from various agencies to ensure transparency and accurate results. Two observers represented the Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship (DAAD), the organisers of the ongoing anti-government protests.

Eight victims were shot with high-velocity bullets of an unknown type from a long distance, said Pol Lt-General Jongjate Aojanephong, director of the Police General Hospital. Five took shots to the head and three others to the abdomen and chest. The officer could not tell whether the bullets were shot from sitting or sniping positions.

"Autopsy results also cannot reveal whether they were trained shooters. They can only tell that the bullets were high-velocity," he added.

One victim was shot through the heart with a bullet of undecided speed. Only one body still carried a bullet, which had yet to be identified. One other casualty was shot at close range and another in the forehead, he said. The remaining details of gunshot patterns are not available.

All 12 victims have been identified, the last by his relatives just yesterday. One man died of other causes during hospital treatment - lung failure after inhaling tear gas, and subsequent heart attack.

DAAD representative Dr Cholnan Srikaew said the autopsies were transparent and he was happy with their accuracy.

The number of deaths remained at 21 while the number of those injured increased to 863 yesterday, from the 858 reported late Sunday evening, said the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's Erawan emergency medical service centre.

Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra said all patients treated at BMA-run hospitals would have to pay nothing. Bloodstains at clash sites will be washed and garbage collected once protestors allow city cleaners to enter the areas, he said.

The Thai Red Cross is seeking more blood supplies after the current stock dropped to 300 units, from a regular daily supply of 1,500 units. A sufficient blood supply is needed to meet daily requirements and also for use during the Songkran holiday break, when injuries increase in number each year, it said.

A Japanese police officer and staff met with Thai police yesterday to check on progress in the investigation into the death of Muramoto.

Pol Maj-General Wichai Sangpraphai did not reveal details of the 20-minute discussion, but said investigations were ongoing and essential details given to the Japanese were confidential.

The Social Development and Human Security Ministry is seeking a Bt25-million budget to help families of all civilians killed in the violent clashes. Relatives of those killed or affected by state action should contact (02) 354 4244 or (02) 306 8957-8.

Immediate financial assistance comprises Bt400,000 per death, Bt200,000 for disabilities and Bt100,000 for injuries requiring more than 20 days of treatment.

Long-term assistance for disabilities includes Bt200,000 for rehabilitation and up to Bt3,000 in monthly payments.

Children of those killed or disabled will receive a monthly allowance until they earn college degrees.






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