News / Asia

Nighttime Gunfire Becomes Norm in Downtown Bangkok

Noppawan Chairat, center, the mother of two children killed in Sunday's bomb attack on an anti-government protest site, Noppawan Chairat, is held by her family members as they wait for their bodies at a hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014
Noppawan Chairat, center, the mother of two children killed in Sunday's bomb attack on an anti-government protest site, Noppawan Chairat, is held by her family members as they wait for their bodies at a hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014
Reuters
Shots fired by unknown gunmen on Wednesday rattled parts of the Thai capital, where anti-government protesters have set up camp for weeks, as small but occasionally deadly bombs and gunfire fast become the new norm in the city.
 
No one was wounded in the shootings in the central commercial area of Bangkok, although five people were killed in weekend violence in the city and the eastern province of Trat, four of them young children.
 
National security chief Paradorn Pattanathabutr said there had been no reported deaths or injuries in the incidents in the early hours of Wednesday.
 
“As for the perpetrators, we still don't know who they are,” he said. “Recently we have been seeing more incidents like this happening more frequently... It is noticeable that there are incidents like this every day.”
 
The protesters, whose disruption of a general election this month left polarized Thailand in political paralysis, want to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and erase the influence of her brother, ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, seen by many as the real power in the country.
 
Occasional contact between the two sides, amid calls for an end to the violence, has so far led to nothing.
 
Bluesky TV, the protesters' station, showed demonstrators pushing against the wrought iron gates of the national police headquarters in Bangkok, demanding the proper investigation of more than 20 deaths since the beginning of the protests.
      
They did not get into the compound and dispersed in the early afternoon.
 
The protesters have vilified the police as lackeys of Thaksin, a former police officer who went on to build a telecoms empire.
 
“We want the police to do their job honestly and straightforwardly,” said Anchalee Paireerak, a protest leader and former television news anchor. “We urge them to stop serving the Thaksin regime and join our movement.”
      
The protesters want to set up an unelected “people's council” of the good and worthy to oversee vaguely defined political reforms, including a restructuring of the police force, before new elections are held.
 
Economic costs
 
Charges of negligence are to be brought against Yingluck on Thursday by Thailand's anti-corruption agency relating to a rice subsidy scheme that paid farmers above-market prices and has proved financially ruinous.
      
Yingluck is in the northern city of Chiang Mai - her family's home town - and is unlikely to attend the hearing in person.
 
Some Yingluck supporters have said they would camp outside the agency's offices in Bangkok overnight to stop officials getting into work on Thursday.
 
The crisis flared up in November and the protesters have blocked several main intersections in the capital since mid-January. Although their numbers have dwindled, they are still managing to disrupt government business, forcing some agencies or ministries to close.
 
This has taken a toll on confidence and the economy.
 
Official figures on Tuesday showed a slump in trade in January.
 
Imports fell 15.5 percent from a year earlier, the biggest tumble since October 2009. Imports of computers and parts were down 19 percent, vehicle parts were off 31.8 percent and consumer goods down 5.3 percent. Exports dropped 2 percent.
 
A boom in the housing market may be coming to an end. The number of new housing units hit a record high in 2013 but developers are braced for a contraction this year because of the political crisis.
 
Land & Houses, the country's largest home builder, saw a 50 percent fall in December presales - the value of bookings for property units - and Kasikornbank  said its housing loans were 50 percent below target in January.

You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid