No one was wounded in the shootings in the central commercial area
of Bangkok, although five people were killed in weekend violence in
the city and the eastern province of Trat, four of them young
National security chief Paradorn Pattanathabutr said there had been
no reported deaths or injuries in the incidents in the early hours
"As for the perpetrators, we still don't know who they are," he told
Reuters. "Recently we have been seeing more incidents like this
happening more frequently ... It is noticeable that there are
incidents like this every day."
The protesters, whose disruption of a general election this month
left polarized Thailand in political paralysis, want to topple Prime
Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and erase the influence of her brother,
ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, seen by many as the real power in
Occasional contact between the two sides, amid calls for an end to
the violence, has so far led to nothing.
Bluesky TV, the protesters' station, showed demonstrators pushing
against the wrought iron gates of the national police headquarters
in Bangkok, demanding the proper investigation of more than 20
deaths since the beginning of the protests.
They did not get into the compound and dispersed in the early
The protesters have vilified the police as lackeys of Thaksin, a
former police officer who went on to build a telecoms empire.
"We want the police to do their job honestly and straightforwardly,"
said Anchalee Paireerak, a protest leader and former television news
anchor. "We urge them to stop serving the Thaksin regime and join
The protesters want to set up an unelected "people's council" of the
good and worthy to oversee vaguely defined political reforms,
including a restructuring of the police force, before new elections
Charges of negligence are to brought against Yingluck on Thursday by
Thailand's anti-corruption agency relating to a rice subsidy scheme
that paid farmers above-market prices and has proved financially
[to top of second column]
Yingluck is in the northern city of Chiang Mai - her family's home
town - and is unlikely to attend the hearing in person.
Some Yingluck supporters have said they would camp outside the
agency's offices in Bangkok overnight to stop officials getting into
work on Thursday.
The crisis flared up in November and the protesters have blocked
several main intersections in the capital since mid-January.
Although their numbers have dwindled, they are still managing to
disrupt government business, forcing some agencies or ministries to
This has taken a toll on confidence and the economy.
Official figures on Tuesday showed a slump in trade in January.
Imports fell 15.5 percent from a year earlier, the biggest tumble
since October 2009. Imports of computers and parts were down 19
percent, vehicle parts were off 31.8 percent and consumer goods down
5.3 percent. Exports dropped 2 percent.
A boom in the housing market may be coming to an end. The number of
new housing units hit a record high in 2013 but developers are
braced for a contraction this year because of the political crisis.
Land & Houses Pcl, the country's largest home builder, saw a 50
percent fall in December presales - the value of bookings for
property units - and Kasikornbank said its housing loans were 50
percent below target in January.
(Additional reporting by Aukkarapon Niyomyat and Khettiya Jittapong;
Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Alan Raybould and Robert Birsel)
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