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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora