The gunmen opened fire on protesters in central Bangkok at around
2 a.m, and at least one other attack took place nearby, police said.
"Unidentified assailants opened fire in the early hours of this
morning ... at an intersection near the Khao San Road tourist area.
Altogether seven people were injured, most of them anti-government
protesters," said national police chief Adul Saengsingkaew.
The attack came just hours after clashes between government
supporters and protesters outside Bangkok that left at least six
The incidents occurred as authorities draw up plans to deploy more
than 14,000 troops and police on Bangkok's streets from Monday. From
then protesters led by former opposition politician Suthep
Thaugsuban aim to paralyze the city for between 15 and 20 days.
The turmoil is the latest episode in an eight-year conflict that
pits Bangkok's middle class and royalist establishment against the
mostly poorer, rural supporters of Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra and her brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who
was overthrown in a military coup in 2006.
The protesters accuse the Shinawatra family of corruption and
nepotism. Yingluck called a snap election for February 2, but this
failed to placate protesters, who want her government to resign to
make way for an unelected people's council to oversee political
Many Thais believe the military will soon step in to break the
political deadlock, especially if the protests turn even more
violent, and rumors of an impending coup have intensified.
The army has staged or attempted 18 coups in 81 years, but it has
tried to remain neutral this time.
The country's top general called for calm ahead of the city-wide
protests and ordered troops to stay neutral in the crisis. "All
sides must act in a way that causes the least disturbance to Bangkok
residents," said army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha.
Eight people, including two officers, have been killed and scores
injured in violence between protesters, police and government
supporters in recent weeks.
One of those injured in the shooting early on Saturday remains in a
critical condition, according to the Erawan Medical Center which
monitors Bangkok hospitals.
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KEY SITES PROTECTED
Fears of more clashes between rival factions escalated after
pro-government "red shirts" announced they would stage their own
march on Monday in provinces neighboring Bangkok.
At a celebration to mark national Children's Day on Saturday, army
chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said he feared an escalation in violence
"I want to tell all sides they must not clash with each other ... we
are all Thais and can live together despite our differences," said
Amid fears of escalating trouble, security forces have been deployed
across the capital to protect key sites including the prime
minister's office, Bangkok's main airport and the city's water and
Bangkok's traffic police and the city's emergency medical services
say they expect some disruption to services next week.
"As the protests will block key roads this will affect
transportation of patients to and from hospital ... we have prepared
backup measures including helicopters to transport the injured,"
said traffic police commander Jirasan Kaewsaenga-ek.
Paralyzing Bangkok is the latest bid in a two-month attempt by
protesters to topple Yingluck.
Protesters plan to block seven main intersections in Bangkok,
causing gridlock in a city clogged with traffic at the best of
times, and say they could block other areas as part of their
prolonged siege of the city.
(Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; editing by Michael Perry and
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