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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More