Violence looms increasingly over the capital and other provinces as anti-government protesters apply pressure to the government, including a campaign this week by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee to “hunt” for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
The latest attack by an unknown group took place late yesterday afternoon when an explosion at a protest site in the Ratchaprasong area killed two people, including a four-year-old boy, and injured at least 22 people.
The bomb went off less than 24 hours after the deadly attack on an anti-government protest site in eastern Trat province on Saturday night, which killed a five-year-old girl and injured 35 others.
National Security Council secretary general Paradorn Pattanathabutr said the government’s men were not behind any violence over the weekend.
The authorities would seek cooperation from guards of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) to step up security measures for the safety of protesters and the public after the Civil Court ruled to prohibit officials from intervening in the protest, he said.
The government did not create violence as an excuse to enforce the emergency decree in other provinces where the PDRC was also staging anti-government protests, he said.
“In Bangkok, we are keeping a close eye on every protest site to provide safety for the people, although the court does not allow us to do anything,” he said.
The Ratchaprasong bomb went off in front of a Big C store 100 metres from the protest stage. A security guard said he saw a man dressed in black loading “suspicious objects” into a tuk-tuk near the store before the explosion.
Earlier, an M79 grenade was found in a car park between the Civil and Appeals courts on Ratchadapisek Road at about 12.30pm yesterday.
Phahon Yothin police and an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team were sent to the scene to examine the explosive. The police used a car tyre to cover the unexploded grenade and cordoned off the area to keep people, many of whom were close to panic, away.
A large number of court officials had shown up at their offices yesterday because a new cooperatives committee was to be elected.
According to an EOD agent, it was initially believed one of the two courts was the target for an attack. But the grenade might have hit a tree before falling and failing to explode.
Police were examining footage from surveillance cameras to find clues to the identity of the culprits.
The heavy casualties in Trat province resulted after a group of armed men opened fire and hurled a grenade at a market in Khao Saming district at about 9.30pm Saturday. PDRC demonstrators were gathering for a rally, but many of the victims were not involved in the PDRC activities.
After the attack, Trat Governor Benjawan Anpruang declared the district a disaster zone.
“We will give Bt2,500 in financial assistance to each injured victim. For the dead victim [a 5-year-old girl], her family will receive Bt25,000 in financial help,” Benjawan said.
The governor said owners of shops damaged in the attacks could also contact the Khao Saming District Office for help.
Trat police chief Pol Maj-General Tisatat Buranarat said police were investigating the case.
Condemnation of the bloody attacks has come from many sides – including the PDRC, the Democrat Party, the Pheu Thai Party and the anti-violence YaBasta Thailand group.
The PDRC and the Democrat Party are demanding the government quickly nail the culprits.
“The attacks constitute blatant crimes. If the government ignores these cases, we will conclude that it and the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order [CMPO] have condoned such forms of terrorism,” Akanat Promphan said. The PDRC would provide assistance to the victims, using its available funds.
The PDRC announced a campaign to hunt for Yingluck, who is reportedly working from a safehouse somewhere in the capital.
Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit yesterday also condemned the attack in Trat. “It’s a despicable act,’ he said. He believed a third party carried out the attack in the hope of gaining benefit from the situation. “Such an attack wouldn’t benefit the government,” he said.