Jarumporn refuses to say which side was worse; army denies involvement
Gunshots were fired from both anti- and pro-government crowds confronting each other in a firefight on Sunday near the Lak Si intersection in northern Bangkok, Assistant Police chief Pol Lt Gen Jarumporn Suramanee said yesterday.
His statement has ended a dispute, made much of in social media, that anti-government protesters fired on the pro-government crowd. But he did not say who opened fire and refused to comment over which side’s weapons were “heavier.”
The police had earlier issued that the firing came mainly from a People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) group. It said it was aimed at a pro-election group who converged not far from the intersection, awaiting arrival of PDRC supporters from the inner city to blockade a ballot storage site in the Lak Si district office.
Within the few hours later, the army issued a statement that no conclusion should be made over which side fired their weapons or who opened fire until an official, comprehensive police investigation into the shooting was complete.
Deputy Army spokesman Col Winthai Suvaree said photos of anti-election supporters carrying guns were abundant in media footage because reporters had accompanied them all along, while there were no reporters embedded in the pro-election crowd.
Asked by reporters if his crime scene investigation was conducted to “counterbalance” the army’s statement, Jarumporn said: “No, the police are conducting a regular scientifically based inspection, and trajectory inspection results will later tell all. The police are treating all sides fairly.”
In the Jarumporn-led inspection yesterday, the types of cartridges and munitions found matched those reported in the police statement on Sunday, but also included 7.62 ammunition for an AK-47 rifle.
The army yesterday denied any involvement in the firefight at Lak Si intersection in northern Bangkok on Sunday after the confrontation between anti- and pro-government supporters.
Winthai said wars of words on the incident, especially in the social media, would only further divide Thai society, while the police investigation was not complete.
He said a company of soldiers dispatched to the Lak Si intersection to contain the situation was entirely unarmed, and that various types of assault rifles seen carried by men in civilian clothes, some of whom were hooded, were available widely among civilian collectors apart from police and military personnel.
He said a number of rifles stolen from soldiers by red-shirt protesters in various clashes during their 2010 Bangkok protest remained unrecovered, and could be used in firefights by both sides. The army’s armouries have been well guarded and the soldiers put in charge in Sunday’s incident were entirely unarmed, he added.
The spokesman called on any members of the public witnessing incidents of armed men or use of violence to take pictures and send them to email@example.com, which is used by the Army's photo collection centre, or call 083-188-7008 to give oral details.
PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban admitted two men wearing PDRC armbands firing pistols were his responsibility, and would investigate why they carried guns in violation of PDRC security regulations. He denied the PDRC had links with a two-man firing team seen shooting an automatic rifle from a large plastic sack.
Deputy Army spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree yesterday dismissed as baseless and damaging an allegation by hardline red-shirt leader Wutthipong “Ko Tee” Kotchathammakhun that Army commander in chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha wanted Wutthipong dead after the election. A legal action is being processed against him, Winthai said.