An apparent grenade attack on an anti-government protest in Thailand’s capital has killed at least two people and wounded nearly two dozen others, as unrest in the country continues amid a push by opposition forces to topple the elected prime minister.
NPR’s Michael Sullivan reports:
“The blast occurred near Central World shopping mall in the heart of [Bangkok] and at least three children are among those most seriously injured, according to the government-run Erawan Medical Center.
“The blast occurred less than 24 hours after an attack on anti-government demonstrators in the eastern province of Trat. A 5-year-old girl who’d been eating noodles at a nearby restaurant was killed in that incident, with many more wounded, raising fears that the long-running political crisis in Thailand may be reaching a critical point.”
The latest round of unrest in Thailand stems from an amnesty bill introduced last year by the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra that would have allowed her billionaire brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, a former premier ousted in a 2006 coup, to return to the country despite a conviction on corruption charges.
The bill was subsequently withdrawn. But hatred among the country’s mostly urban middle- and upper-class for Thaksin and his sister — both popular in the poor, rural, rice-growing regions — has fueled continued unrest.
The opposition is calling for Yingluck to step down and be replaced by an unelected council, ostensibly under the auspices of the country’s titular monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, although he has never publicly taken sides in the dispute.
The pro-monarchy “yellow shirts” have staged weeks of protests and rallies.
As NPR’s Krishnadev Calamur reported earlier this month, four people were killed as police sought to clear protesters from the capital.
Yingluck’s ruling Pheu Thai Party won parliamentary elections earlier this month that were boycotted by the opposition.