BANGKOK (AP) -- Two explosions shook an anti-government demonstration
site in Thailand's capital on Sunday, wounding at least 28 people in the
latest violence to hit Bangkok as the nation's increasingly volatile political crisis drags on.
said the blasts near Victory Monument, in the north of the city, were
caused by fragmentation grenades - the same kind that killed one man and
wounded dozens Friday in a similar explosion targeting protest
The demonstrators, who control several small patches of Bangkok, are vying to overthrow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government and derail Feb. 2 elections she called in a bid to quell the crisis.
said the explosions occurred about two minutes apart. The first blast
went off about 100-200 yards from a stage set up by protesters, leaving a
small crater beside a vendor's stall. The second went off near a row of
vendors selling anti-government T-shirts, leaving bloody clothes and a
ripped white-and-blue plastic tarp scattered across the ground.
Theerayuth Uthakapintanont said that the second blast struck two
vendors who were selling merchandise to protesters in the street.
The Erawan Medical Center, which tracks casualties, said 28 people were wounded.
a vast city of 12 million people, is calm, but such incidents have
occurred nearly every day over the last week, including shooting attacks
at protest venues and small explosives hurled at the homes of top
It is unclear who is behind the unrest. But
prolonged violence, even on a small scale, increases the chance that the
military will stage a coup. Such a scenario would benefit protesters,
who have called on the army to take sides and do not have the numbers to
bring down the government on their own.
Thailand's army has
staged about a dozen successful coups since the end of absolute monarchy
in 1932. The last coup, in 2006, toppled then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
- Yingluck's brother - and touched off a societal schism that in broad
terms pits the majority rural poor who back the Shinawatras against an
urban-based elite establishment supported by the army and staunch
royalists who see Yingluck's family as a corrupt threat to the
traditional structures of power.
Yingluck's opponents - a minority
that can no longer win at the polls - argue the Shinawatras are using
their electoral majority to impose their will and subvert democracy.
The crisis boiled over again late last year after the ruling party
attempted to push through an amnesty bill that would have allowed
Thaksin to return from self-imposed exile. Thaksin has lived abroad
since 2008 to avoid a prison sentence for a corruption conviction.
Saturday night, a gunman opened fire on anti-government protesters in
Bangkok's Lad Prao district, where protesters have taken over a key
intersection. A 54-year-old man was shot in the back and seriously
wounded in the shooting. He underwent surgery and was in the intensive
care unit on Sunday, the Erawan Center said.
The shooting took
place about 300 yards from a protest stage, police Col. Komsak
Sumangkaset said. The wounded man was a volunteer guard at a barricade
tasked with checking vehicles and people entering the protest area, he
On Friday, a grenade hurled at a crowd of marching
demonstrators in another part of Bangkok killed one man and wounded
dozens of people, police said.
Anxious about triggering military
intervention, Yingluck has ordered police to go out of their way to
avoid confrontations with protesters. The strategy is aimed at averting
violence, but it also has undermined rule of law and the government's
authority, with police staying away from the scattered pockets of
Bangkok controlled by demonstrators.
The protest movement has taken the law into its own hands. A protest leader, Issara Somchai, said demonstrators on Saturday detained two men allegedly found with small homemade explosives and handcuffs.
Somchai said Sunday that the pair, suspected of planning violence,
was still in the hands of protesters and was being "investigated."
are taking care of them. They are safe with us," said Somchai, adding
that the men were also being protected from demonstrators who could seek