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January 17, 2014

Thai Protester Dies of Injuries Received in Bombing

by VOA News

One of the anti-government protesters who was critically wounded in a bomb attack in the Thai capital of Bangkok on Friday has died.

The victim, 46-year-old Prakong Chuhan, was pronounced dead early Saturday. He was one of at least 28 people who were wounded by an explosion that went off Friday afternoon during a march of anti-government protesters led by opposition leader Suthep Thaugsuban.

Police said the explosive device was thrown at the marchers. The attack followed a recent series of drive-by shootings that protesters blame on the government.

Protest leader Suthep, who was not hurt by the blast, is calling for an unelected people's council to replace the current government, which he says is corrupt and engages in nepotism.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra refuses to step down. She insists on holding early elections on February 2, though the opposition has said it will boycott the polls.

Until Friday's attack, this week's protests had been peaceful, as police have largely stayed away and avoided conflict. But the protesters also have not been successful at shutting the government down as they had planned.

Thailand has experienced regular political turmoil in recent years. The conflict pits Bangkok's urban middle class and royalist elite against the mostly poor, rural supporters of Yingluck and her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup, remains very influential in Thailand, even though he was convicted of corruption and lives in self-imposed exile.

Yingluck's Pheu Thai party is expected to easily win the February vote, thanks to the popularity of her brother and the social welfare programs he enacted.