Explosions hit Bangkok amid Red Shirts-rival clashes

08:38, April 23, 2010      

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A series of bomb blasts rocked Bangkok's main financial district of Silom on Thursday night as the red-shirted anti-government protesters were confronting with pro-government groups.

At least one people died and 75 others were injured in the bomb blasts, Minister of Public Health Jurin Laksanawisit said. But local media reported earlier five deaths and some 100 injuries.

TPBS TV said earlier that a woman died after she was rushed to the Chulalongkorn Hospital in Bangkok.

As many as five blasts took place within an hour time minutes after 08:00 p.m., 500 meters from where a group of people were confronting with the "red-shirt" protesters at the Sala Daeng Intersection, the Nation news group said.

Among the targets of the series of blasts, the Headquarters of Bangkok Bank, Thailand's largest commercial bank, was hit by a bomb, leaving more than 20 injured, local media reported.

The blast occurred around 09:00 p.m., following three explosions that hit the third floor of Sala Daeng skytrain station, the sky walk and Dusit Thani hotel.

Sansern Kaewkamnerd, spokesman for the Center for the Resolutions of Emergency Situations or CRES confirmed that the explosions were caused by M-79 grenades.

Bangkok Skytrain authority has suspended services of four stations and the Subway authority has suspended services of five stations after the bomb blasts.

Meanwhile, the red-shirts protesters who camped nearby lit at least 10 fireworks to prevent army helicopters from entering the area.

On North Sathorn road, some two kilometers from the explosion sites, dozens of soldiers with guns are seen patrolling.

Police has captured six suspects in Silom area and investigation is under way, Nation TV said late Thursday night, hours after the blasts.

Deputy Prime Minister for security affairs Suthep Thaugsuban said in a televised address around 11:30 p.m. that the grenades were fired from behind the King Rama VI statue where the "red- shirt" protesters were demonstrating.

He warned residents in the area to stay away more than 400 meters from the main road as the grenades have a range of 400 meters.

But the "red-shirts" leaders earlier denied that the "red- shirts" have any connection with the blasts.

Prime Minister Abhisit, Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and Army Commander Anupong Paojinda are trying to return the situation to normal.

Security forces were enforced in the city but Suthep said it is not convenient for police and troops to enter the rally site to handle the emergency at night.

On Thursday evening, the Civil Court issued an injunction against the use of force to break up the "red-shirt" rally at the Rajprasong Intersection.

But the court noted that the demonstration affected the public so the government could use internationally-accepted measures to deal with the protesters from lighter to harsher measures.

Sansern Kaewkamnerd spokesman for the Centre for the Resolutions of Emergency Situations or CRES said in a telephone with TPBS TV that the army will not disperse the "red-shirt" protesters Thursday night.

Just an hour after the blasts, some 100 people clashed with the red-shirted protesters near Bangkok's main financial district.

The people wearing multi-colored shirts forced through the line of police to confront the red-shirted protesters at the nearby Lumpini Park around 10:45 p.m., a Xinhua reporter at the scene said. The two sides hurled bottles at each other and fired slingshots at each other.

This is the second day that the two sides clashed. On Wednesday night, the same group also hurled bottles and stones at the "reds- shirts" who camped near the Silom area for more than two weeks, leaving at least 20 injured, including two foreigners.

The anti-government "red-shirts started their protest rally in the capital a month ago, demanding Prime Minister Abhisit's resignation and dissolving the lower House of the parliament for new elections.

Source: Xinhua


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