Friday, April 23, 2010

Bangkok Explosions Stoke Fears of Wider Violence

Five grenades exploded in the heart of Bangkok’s business district on Thursday evening, killing at least one person and wounding 75 as rival groups of protesters demonstrated and shouted insults at one another across a makeshift barricade.

The explosions, several of which took place on the platform of an elevated train, scattered shrapnel through crowds that included foreign tourists, sending people fleeing in panic into shops and restaurants.

The attacks threatened to ignite wider violence after more than six weeks of protests that seek to bring down the government and force a new election.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, speaking on television, blamed the antigovernment protesters known as the red shirts, who have paralyzed parts of Bangkok. He said that rocket-propelled grenades had been fired from within an area the red shirts occupied. Although he said three people had been killed, the government’s Erawan Medical Center confirmed only one death.

It was the worst violence since April 10, when 25 people were killed in a clash between the military and the red shirts, and it raised fears that confrontations between rival groups of protesters could spread.

Tensions have increased in recent days, with the red shirts threatening to march on the financial district and the government warning of an imminent crackdown. “Your days are numbered,” an army spokesman, Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd, said Thursday, addressing the red shirts.

To read more:

Explosions in Bangkok Wound Dozens, Photo slideshow:

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