Thai military concerned protest could turn violent
By SUTIN WANNABOVORN,Associated Press Writer AP - Sunday, November 23
BANGKOK, Thailand - Thailand's military expressed concern that a planned anti-government rally could turn violent after a grenade attack on the protest group wounded eight people outside the prime minister's office.
The protesters, who call themselves the People's Alliance for Democracy, planned a major rally Sunday evening to "finish off" the government, and were expected to march to Parliament in an attempt to block a session of lawmakers the following day.
The protesters have occupied the Government House compound, including the prime minister's office, since August and are demanding that Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat resign. They accuse him of being a proxy for his brother-in-law, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a 2006 military coup for alleged corruption and abuse of power.
The protesters have been attacked several times by small bombs and grenades, including a blast Thursday that killed one person and wounded 29, and another on Saturday that injured eight.
The alliance's planned demonstration Sunday was part of a final push against the government, key protest leader Chamlong Srimuang said.
"It will be the biggest PAD movement to finish off this illegal government," Chamlong told about 2,000 protesters at Government House on Saturday. "If we cannot drive out this illegal government then we will give up and let them do whatever they want to the country. Everyone in PAD will go home."
Army spokesman Col. Sansern Khaewkamnerd said the demonstration could turn violent if the protesters march to Parliament.
The army urged the government to postpone or change the site of the parliamentary session but it refused, Sansern said, adding that the army will station about 2,000 soldiers in the area as a precaution.
"Police will be responsible for control of the situation but the military will be on call to support police in keeping order," Sansern said in a telephone interview.
Bangkok police chief Gen. Jongrak Jutanon said 2,400 police would be stationed outside Parliament.
"I hope the protesters do not obstruct members of Parliament from doing their duty," he said Saturday.
The last time the protest group marched on Parliament, street battles with police left two dead and hundreds wounded. The Oct. 7 clashes were the country's worst political violence in more than a decade.
No one took responsibility for Saturday's explosion, which occurred shortly after 2 a.m. Police Lt. Col. Samreng Songsiang said it was caused by an M-79 grenade, a type normally fired from a launcher.
He said it came from somewhere nearby but could not pinpoint the location.
The Nation newspaper reported that witnesses saw two teenagers park a motorcycle near the back of the nearby headquarters of the Bangkok Metropolitan Police and fire the grenade from a launcher.
Chamlong, however, said the grenade was launched from the police headquarters itself, but gave no evidence to support the claim.
Thaksin has fled Thailand to escape a slew of corruption charges. He remains highly popular among poor Thais living in the countryside for his populist policies, but is fiercely opposed by the protest alliance and its sympathizers _ monarchists, the military and the urban elite _ who viewed his government as deeply corrupt.
Recommend this article
Average (0 votes)
Sign in to recommend this article »
Most Recommended Stories »
Related Articles: Asia Pacific
Japan, Russia vow 'concrete' steps to end island rowAFP - 23 minutes ago
Tight security as second stage Kashmir elections beginAFP - 45 minutes ago
5 SKorean solders injured in grenade explosionAP - 45 minutes ago
China dismisses UN report on tortureAFP - 54 minutes ago
Strong quake, aftershocks hit Indonesia's Sumatra: seismologistsAFP - 1 hour 17 minutes ago
Most Popular – Asia Pacific
Merkel warns 2009 will be 'year of bad news' for economy
New strain of deadly Ebola virus discovered
Wall Street plunges again as panic spreads
Over 200 narwhal trapped in Canadian ice
Aussie mayor wins sexist 'award' for inviting ugly women to town
View Complete List »