Bangkok, May 8 (DPA) Unknown assailants attacked policemen guarding an area occupied by an anti-government demonstration, killing two officers and wounding nine people, police said Saturday.
In the first attack, occurring about 10.45 p.m. Friday, men on a motorcycle fired on police and pro-government counter demonstrators on Silom Road, killing Police Sergeant Pannupat Lertkanpen with a bullet to the stomach, said Metropolitan Police
Commissioner Lieutenant General Santan Chayanol.
The attack also wounded three other policemen and two civilians.
A second attack occurred at 1.30 a.m. Saturday, in which three grenades were fired at policemen stationed outside the U-Chuliang Building across the road from Lumpini park, an area occupied by the protesters.
Police Sergeant Wittaya Phomsalee died from a chest wound he sustained in the attack. Four other policemen were wounded.
‘It’s too early to say who was behind these attacks,’ Santan said. ‘I believe it was a group of people who want to create chaos.’
The fresh violence comes at a bad time for Bangkok, where a nearly two-month-old anti-government protest has already sparked clashes that have claimed 27 lives, including six soldiers, and wounded more than 900.
Negotiations are underway to end the costly demonstration, which has seized the heart of Bangkok’s main commercial district, and cost the country millions of dollars in lost tourism revenues.
The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), better known as the red shirts, started its protest March 12 in a bid to force Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve parliament and hold new elections.
In what was hailed as a major breakthrough, Abhisit Monday announced plans to hold an election Nov 14, which would require dissolving parliament between Sep 15 and Sep 30.
He also laid out a five-point road map to be followed in the coming months to deal with some of the political issues that have deeply divided the country over the past four years.
The UDD has accepted the road map in principle, but has yet to leave its protest site in the middle of the city, which it has occupied with thousands of followers since April 3.
Although the red shirt protest began peacefully, it adopted more aggressive tactics in April after failing to force Abhisit to meet their demand for an immediate dissolution of parliament.
Abhisit placed the capital under emergency decree April 7. An attempt to clear protesters from their previous demonstration site at Phan Fa Bridge, in the old part of Bangkok, led to a bloody street battle that left 25 dead, including five soldiers, and wounded more than 800.
The UDD protest has been accompanied by an unprecedented number of attacks on government and army installations by unknown assailants armed with military weapons.
To date the government has not said who the militants working in tandem with the UDD are. An impartial investigation into the April 10 event is one of the five steps on Abhisit’s proposed road map.