Gunshots at Lak Si intersection came from anti-govt side, police say

national February 03, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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GUNFIRE during a confrontation between anti- and pro-government crowds on Saturday around a ballot-storage site near the Lak Si intersection in northern Bangkok came from the anti-government side, a police spokesman said yesterday.
Asked about the identities and political affiliation of several men seen carrying weapons in photos distributed widely online, Pol Maj-General Adul Narongsak said the shots were fired by people associated with the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).
Arrest warrants would be sought today for a number of people who faces can be clearly seen, and who are shown carrying weapons, in photos, he said.
The encounter saw six people shot. One was critically wounded and faces potential paralysis. No official trajectory reports or crime scene investigations have been made to determine the direction of bullets that hit the victims. But Adul said the cartridges found were in an area where PDRC supporters gathered – and bullet marks were found in the IT Square building where the pro-election crowd converged.
Media footage and photos available show activities entirely on the PDRC supporters’ side, following the crowd’s movement from the Lat Phrao intersection along Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road to blockade the ballot-storage facility  inside the Lak Si district office.
Media footage showed many men among the crowd emerging carrying firearms. Several were seen shooting in the images, but the direction of the shots is hard to ascertain. 
No available media reports described which of the two crowds opened fire first, and Adul did not give details at a police press conference yesterday.
The commander of the police Office of Forensic Science, Pol Lt-General Khamrob Panyakaew, said the 25 cartridges and bullets found were of five calibre sizes – 9mm and 11mm handgun bullets, shotgun shell discs, and .30 vintage M1-Carbine and .223 assault rifle munitions. Further crime-scene investigating would be carried out, he added.
A number of policemen gave statements about their role in separating the pro-government crowd, which converged near IT Mall building, from the PDRC members. Adul said there were around 70 pro-government supporters about 50 metres from the intersection. Some 200 PDRC supporters arrived at about 4.30pm, with three pickup trucks and a six-wheel truck on which leaders were speaking through loudspeakers.
There were two loud bangs and ensuing gunfire, said Adul. Police coordinated with a team of soldiers guarding the intersection, asking them to convince PDRC leaders to move away. They did so and retreated to the Lat Phrao intersection rally site in the next hour. The situation then returned to normal, Adul added.
A much-discussed incident involved a two-man firing team among PDRC supporters firing in an unknown direction, with the shooter wearing a black hood and the spotter wearing a hood in a lighter shade. Adul said the weapon fired by the shooter, contained in a large plastic bag, was likely an Army service Tavor rifle, which fires .223 calibre munitions.
“The bag would have retained all used cartridges, leaving nothing for us to collect, and the shooter fired the weapon in a military-trained manner,” Adul said. No verification could be made now as to whether the weapon was issued on a lawful order, but several weapons are government-issue and may be used through other channels, said Adul.

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