4 dead, 64 hurt as sites taken

national February 19, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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FOUR PEOPLE were killed and 64 others injured in clashes between anti-government protesters and police yesterday. 
The casualties occurred on both sides as the authorities were trying to reclaim public areas from the demonstrators. The Erawan Emergency Medical Service Centre confirmed these figures at about 4.40pm yesterday. 
With the latest casualties, the number of victims in the ongoing political violence has risen to 697, of whom 15 have died so far. These statistics have been compiled since the first clash erupted near Ramkhamhaeng University on November 30. 
Three victims identified
Of the four killed yesterday, three were identified as Pol Snr Sgt-Major Phienchai Pharawat, 45; plus Supoj Boonrung, 52; and Thanusak Rattanakhot, 29, who were both believed to be protesters. 
Of the 64 injured, 10 were police, who were admitted for treatment at the Police General Hospital. One of the officers had to undergo surgery to remove a bullet from his head. 
Most of the injured police officers hailed from non-commissioned ranks with many apparently suffering from wounds caused by shrapnel. 
Only one commissioned officer appeared on the list of casualties – Pol Colonel Yongyuth Ruangdej, a superintendent at the Royal Police Cadet Academy, who sustained a gunshot wound to his leg. 
Other victims from yesterday’s clashes were mostly being treated at nearby hospitals such as the Klang Hospital, Hua Chiew Hospital, Ramathibodi Hospital, Faculty of Medicine Vajira Hospital, and Priest Hospital. 
Meanwhile, Public Health Minister Pradit Sinthawanarong said yesterday that hospitals in neighbouring provinces were put on alert, in case extra medical help was required to treat victims of political violence. 
“If there are more than 100 victims, there is a possibility that they will be sent to nearby provinces,” he said. 
Anti-government protesters have been rallying on the streets for several months in a bid to pressure caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign. They believe her resignation will pave the way for a People’s Council that will help implement reforms for public interest. 
Standing strong
The Yingluck administration, however, has refused to step down, saying it needs to protect democracy. 
It has imposed a state of emergency and went ahead with an election on February 2, but this |was marred with problems which |the Election Commission is attempting to resolve, such as a lack of candidates in many constituencies in the South. 
Ballots also need to be held in many seats in Bangkok where voting could not be conducted because of protests or blockades that prevented the delivery of ballot papers. 
With the political battle having also spread to the Internet, National Health Commission secretary-general Amphon Jindawatana expressed concern yesterday about victims’ personal information being used in the political struggle. 
He warned that disclosing a patient’s personal information constituted a legal offence. 
“Please respect patients’ basic rights,” he urged.

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