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Dozens of protesters hurt in Bangkok blast

Updated: 2014-01-18 07:54
By Agencies in Bangkok ( China Daily)

Dozens of protesters hurt in Bangkok blast

Anti-government protesters help a fellow protester injured in a grenade attack during a rally in Bangkok on Friday. Provided by Reuters

Anti-govt rallies, violence in Thai capital build as elections approach

Dozens of people were wounded in the Thai capital on Friday in some of the bloodiest violence reported this year, when an explosion occurred as anti-government demonstrators marched through Bangkok.

The movement's leader, Suthep Thaugsuban, was in the procession but was not injured in the blast, protest spokesman Akanat Promphan said.

Akanat said an explosive device was thrown into a truck driven by demonstrators that was several dozen meters ahead of Suthep.

He said 20 people were injured, while the city's emergency services center put the toll at 28.

Thailand has been racked by repeated bouts of unrest since the military ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006 amid charges of corruption and alleged disrespect for the monarchy. The crisis boiled over again late last year after a failed ruling party bid to push through an amnesty bill that would have allowed Thaksin to return from exile.

Anti-government demonstrators who are seeking to oust Thaksin's sister, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, took over seven key roads and overpasses in Bangkok this week, blocking them off with sandbag walls and steel barricades.

The protests, which also are aimed at derailing the promised Feb 2 elections, have been primarily peaceful.

But minor acts of violence have been reported nightly with protest venues targeted in shooting attacks and explosives hurled at the homes of top protest supporters.

Overnight, two motorcycle-riding suspects rode past the residence of Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra and hurled a grenade inside, according to Police Colonel Samarn Rodkamnerd.

Paribatra, who is a member of the Democrat Party, which is backing the protesters, was not home at the time, and no injuries or serious damage was reported.

The attack was similar to another grenade attack, on the home of Abhisit Vejjajiva, a former Democrat premier whose party lost to Yingluck's in a 2011 vote.

Fresh legal troubles

The violence comes as pressure mounts for Yingluck to resign. She is facing fresh legal troubles after the country's anti-corruption commission announced on Thursday that it would investigate her handling of a controversial rice policy.

According to the National Anti-Corruption Commission, it has found grounds to investigate allegations that Yingluck was criminally negligent in her handling of what the government has described as a deal to export surplus rice.

The commission has already determined that there are grounds to press charges against her former commerce minister and more than a dozen other officials.

If she is found guilty, Yingluck would be forced to resign.

Yingluck's supporters fear the move is part of a legal push by opponents to oust her. After her brother Thaksin was toppled in 2006, court rulings forced two other pro-Thaksin heads of government from power.

The rice-pledging scheme is one of several populist policies on which the ruling Pheu Thai Party campaigned before winning the 2011 vote that brought Yingluck to office.

Under the policy, the government buys rice at above-market prices from farmers, mostly in the north and northeast, and sells it to other countries.

Critics say the government has been deliberately opaque in its transactions and that the policy will bring the country to the brink of financial ruin. Last year, Thailand lost its place as the world's leading rice producer.

AP-AFP

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