January 11, 2014 00:00 By Anan Wichitpracha,
Group of red shirts attack pdrc supporters inviting people to join rally on Monday
AT LEAST FOUR PEOPLE were injured when a group of red shirts clashed with People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) supporters in Pathum Thani yesterday.
The clash erupted after PDRC supporters began travelling around Pathum Thani’s Muang district, inviting residents to join their anti-government rally on Monday, which will be held in tandem with the PDRC-led Bangkok shutdown. The procession led by outspoken monk Luangpu Buddha Isara included some 100 vehicles.
In the clash, a 16-year-old student and a man were hurt by shrapnel from giant firecrackers, while two red-shirt supporters, Prayad Nakplong and Sutiwat Tima, were also injured with the latter shot in the head.
Upon learning of the PDRC procession, red-shirt leader Wutthipong Kajathamkhun, better known as Koh Tee, decided to lead a group of red shirts to confront the anti-government crowd.
Police tried to stop the two sides from confronting each other, but Wutthipong’s vehicle broke through the police’s barricade, resulting in a violent clash.
There were sounds of gunfire and explosions and it was found that a red-shirt man had been shot and another man injured by an explosive. A blast also injured a teenage boy who was passing by. All four were rushed to Bhumibol and B-Care hospitals.
A bullet hole was also found in the windscreen of a PDRC vehicle.
Also yesterday, Sornrak Malaithong led hundreds of members of the People’s Radio for Democracy on motorcycles from Pathum Thani’s Talad Thai Market to the headquarters of Daily News and Thai Rath newspapers as well as to the head offices of ThaiPBS and Channel 7 TV stations.
They demanded that the media provide fair reports on the political conflict and called on Bangkok residents to come out against the planned shutdown.
Sornrak’s group also stopped at the Department of Special Investigation to express support, before heading back. On their way they passed a group of PDRC demonstrators and there was the hurling of abuse back and forth without any violence.
In a separate development, police yesterday arrested a fourth-year student from Ramkhamhaeng University for allegedly stealing the gear of riot-control police officers.
Pol Colonel Saroj Soonsup, deputy commander of Metropolitan Police Division 4, said Chakkrapong Boonruang, 23, had been arrested at his rented room in Ramkhamhaeng Soi 57, where they found a bullet-proof vest, a helmet, leg-protectors, a black baton, a teargas canister and other things.
Saroj said police raided Chakkrapong’s room following a tip-off from a resident in the soi, who said that teenagers living in the area had been boasting about having stolen some riot-police gear during the December 26 clash at the Thai-Japanese stadium.
Separately, the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) yesterday urged people affected by the anti-government protests to file police compalints.
CAPO’s deputy chief Pracha Promnok said people living in Bangkok could file complaints at any police stations as well as the Crime Suppression Bureau on Phaholyothin Road. He said that provincial authorities would assign officials to accept complaints.
He said a 24-hour police service had been set up to deal with |problems during the shutdown, specifically if people are unable to conduct financial activities such as pay car loans, insurance or rent.
The First Army Region Commander Lt-General Teerachai Nakwanich said yesterday that 40 companies of military officers would join forces with police to take care of the situation on Monday.
Deputy national police chief Pol General Worapong Chewpreecha had earlier said that 56 companies of police would be among 96 companies of defence personnel to be deployed on the day.