At least 31 people were injured on Friday when a blast hit an anti-government protest march in Bangkok in the latest flare-up of violence against opposition groups seeking to oust beleaguered premier Yingluck Shinawatra.
The blast occurred at the rally led by opposition leader and Peoples Democratic Reforms Committee (PDRC) movement chief Suthep Thaugsuban, who escaped unhurt.
“When the incident happened and perpetrators threw the explosive, Suthep was 30 metres away,” Akanat Promphan, a spokesman for the movement, said. Security guards whisked Suthep away to an unknown location.
The Erawan Emergency Centre, which monitors Bangkok hospitals, said 31 people were being treated for injuries caused by the blast at Banthat Thong.
The bomb, either an improvised explosive or a giant firecracker, went off as protesters were passing along the street near an intersection, damaging a pick-up truck.
PDRC security officers said the explosive was lobbed from a nearby three-storey building.
Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said an armed group might be behind sporadic attacks launched during the anti-government protests in Bangkok. Military police rushed to the scene to inspect the explosion.
The army sent soldiers to help police and the protesters conduct security patrols, and appointed military medical units to be on standby at rally venues.
Around 12,000 protesters were on the streets during the attack. That is a fraction of an estimated 1,70,000 people who gathered on Monday to launch “shutdown” of the capital campaign in their latest bid to force the 46-year-old premier from office.
Satit Wongnongtaey, a protest leader, said he would discuss security measures with Suthep and added that caretaker premier Yingluck must take responsibility for the violence.
On Tuesday, two persons were injured in a bomb and gun attack near a rally site. The anti-government protesters have been blocking major road junctions in Bangkok and are camped out in some areas.
Protesters, who seek to rein in the political dominance of the Shinawatra clan in the country, allege that the Yingluck regime is controlled by her fugitive brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted in a coup in 2006.
They want to install an unelected “people’s council” to carry out reforms before the February 2 snap polls.