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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid