Protest leader shot dead, 10 hurt in melee with reds
January 27, 2014 00:00 By The Nation
An anti-government protest leader was killed yesterday afternoon while leading a blockade at a polling station for advance voting in Bang Na in Bangkok, while 10 others were injured, reported the city's Erawan Emergency Centre.
Suthin Taratin, leader of People’s Army to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime, was declared dead at Vibharam Hospital after being shot in the head outside the polling station in Wat Sri-iam Temple compound. Police have yet to identify the shooter at press time. The 10 injured were rushed to nearby hospitals. The shooting happened at about 2pm as Suthin and protesters were confronted by red-shirt supporters at the temple.
He was shot as he was descending from the back of truck where he used as stage as sounds of shooting was heard.
After reports of a skirmish between the two sides, police rushed to the scene to find a ransacked Toyota pick-up truck with a smashed windshield and windows, while two loudspeakers were dumped in a roadside ditch, and t-shirts with anti-government protest symbols scattered around the area. Police retrieved a bullet-proof vest, a home-made shotgun, two shotgun cartridges, one M16 bullet, a foot-long knife, whistles, slingshots and metal balls from the truck as evidence. Police also found a pool of blood on the road island and one spent bullet.
Bang Na investigator Pol Lt Col Preuk Chaiwattana said witnesses claimed that anti-government protesters arrived at the polling station around noon and that red-shirts supporters arrived about an hour later. The red shirts circled the area for about 30 minutes before the clash occurred. Witnesses said gunshots were heard before fighting broke out.
Following the incident, former MP and anti-government protest leader Satit Wongnongtaey took to the Pathumwan rally stage to report that the protesters’ caravan was leaving Wat Sri-iam when an armed red-shirt supporter shot at the truck with the loudspeakers and hit Suthin. He also claimed police on duty at the temple didn’t offer any assistance. Satit later said soldiers rescued the anti-government protesters from the red shirts. He urged fellow protesters not to enter the area for their own safety, as red-shirts had allegedly surrounded the temple.
Deputy police chief Pol Gen Aek Angsananont led senior police to inspect the scene of the shooting at 4.30pm. He urged investigators to speedily interview witnesses and those involved, as well check CCTV security cameras in the area.
Meanwhile, at a polling station in Nong Kaem district, about 1,000 protesters showed up to force the district office to close, but left after officials presented them with a statement saying advance voting had been suspended.
However fighting erupted at the district office gate, as some 10 anti-government security guards allegedly assaulted a plainclothes policeman – later identified as Pol Col Itthikorn Lunsakaewong of Nong Kaem police station. The policeman was allegedly taking pictures of demonstrators and resisted attempts by the guards to search him.
The guards also allegedly seized his 11mm pistol and Bt6,000 in cash, before fleeing in trucks when uniformed police tried to intervene.
Itthikornm, who was treated for his injuries in hospital, filed a complaint with police.
Elsewhere, numerous scuffles took place at advance voting booths, including a confrontation between protesters and red-shirts at a polling station in Nakhon Ratchasima.