Bomb kills two and wounds 22 in busy shopping district in Thai capital

At least two killed in Bangkok blast after pro-Yingluck red-shirt leader tells group to 'deal with' anti-government protesters

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 February, 2014, 8:58pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 February, 2014, 4:52pm

Watch: Scenes from Bangkok market explosion

An explosion killed two people and wounded at least 22 in a busy shopping district of the Thai capital yesterday, hours after supporters of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra promised to get tough with demonstrators paralysing parts of the city, raising tension in the strife-torn country.

But it was not immediately clear who was responsible for the explosion.

The explosion occurred near one of the few large protest sites remaining, leaving a trail of blood and sandals on the streets of the Ratchaprasong shopping area.

The thing we are trying to avoid at all costs is a civil war and any kind of confrontation
UDD spokesman Thanawut Wichaidit

Three children suffered serious head injuries, Erawan Medical Centre, which monitors hospitals, said. One died.

"One boy who we understand was 12 years old has died from injuries sustained in the blast. Another child is undergoing an operation and a third is still in the emergency room with us," said a nurse at Ramathibodi Hospital in central Bangkok.

Erawan said a 40-year-old woman was also killed.

In a statement on Facebook, Yingluck, who has not been seen in public for days, branded the violence terrorism.

"I strongly condemn the use of violence in recent days ... since the lives of children were lost," she said. "The violent incidents are terrorist acts for political gains without regard for human life."

The crisis pits mostly middle-class anti-government protesters from Bangkok and the south against supporters of Yingluck from the rural north and northeast of the country.

Both sides have blamed the other for instigating violence. Armed provocateurs have a history of trying to stir tension in Thailand and both protesters and the police have also blamed violence on shadowy third parties.

Leaders of the pro-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) - also known as the "red-shirts" - have vowed to "deal with" anti-government leader Suthep Thaugsuban. "This fight will be harder than any other ... You must think how we can deal with Suthep and those supporting him," Jatuporn Prompan, a UDD leader and senior member of the ruling Puea Thai party, told thousands of cheering supporters in Nakhon Ratchasima, northeast of the capital.

It was unclear whether Jatuporn was calling for an armed struggle, but he spoke just hours after gunmen shot at an anti-government protest stage and threw explosive devices in the Khao Saming district of the eastern province of Trat, killing a five-year-old girl, and wounding 41 people.

Anti-government protesters have blocked main Bangkok intersections for weeks with tents, tyres and sandbags, seeking to unseat Yingluck and halt the influence of her billionaire brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, an ousted former prime minister regarded by many as the real power behind the government.

Thanawut Wichaidit, a spokesman for the UDD, said a strategy to counter anti-government protests in Bangkok had yet to be worked out, but that the movement wanted to avert a civil war. "We want to fight peacefully, without weapons, but we have not yet decided how we will proceed," Thanawut said.

"The thing we are trying to avoid at all costs is a civil war and any kind of confrontation."