Thai Government Supporters Vow to "Deal With" Bangkok Protesters
February 23, 2014 4:48 PM EST
Supporters of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra promised on Sunday to get tough with anti-government protesters paralysing parts of Bangkok, raising tension in a protracted crisis hours after a deadly attack on a protest rally.
Thai riot police stand guard as anti-government protesters (bottom) rally inside a compound of the Thai Royal Police Club in Bangkok. Reuters
Leaders of the pro-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) vowed to "deal with" anti-government leader Suthep Thaugsuban, setting the scene for a possible confrontation between pro- and anti-government groups.
"This fight will be harder than any other ... You must think how we can deal with Suthep and those supporting him," Jatuporn Prompan, a UDD leader and senior member of the ruling Puea Thai Party, told thousands of cheering supporters in Nakhon Ratchasima, northeast of the capital.
It was unclear whether Jatuporn was calling for an armed struggle, but he was speaking just hours after gunmen shot at an anti-government protest stage and threw explosive devices in the Khao Saming district of the eastern province of Trat, killing at least one person and wounding 41.
Police had earlier put the death toll at two.
Anti-government protesters have blocked main Bangkok intersections for weeks with tents, tyres and sandbags, seeking to unseat Yingluck and halt the influence of her billionaire brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, an ousted former premier regarded by many as the real power behind the government.
The protests are the biggest since deadly political unrest in 2010, when Thaksin's "red shirt" supporters paralysed Bangkok in an attempt to remove a government led by the Democrat Party, now the opposition.
More than 90 people were killed and 2,000 wounded when Suthep, at the time a deputy prime minister, sent in troops.
Presenting a further headache for Yingluck, Thailand's anti-corruption body filed charges against her last week over a rice subsidy scheme that has left hundreds of farmers, her natural backers, unpaid.
Yingluck is due to hear the charges on Thursday.
The UDD, largely made up of Thaksin supporters based in the populous north and northeast, was formed in 2008 as a counter-force to the yellow-shirted anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy group.
The protests are the latest chapter in a political conflict that has gripped Thailand for eight years and broadly pits Bangkok's middle class and elite, and followers in the south, against rural backers of Yingluck and her brother.
UDD chairwoman Thida Tawornseth said Sunday's rally would consolidate plans to restore democracy after the opposition boycotted and disrupted elections this month, leaving the country under a caretaker government. On Saturday, she ruled out any plans for violence.
Four protesters and a police officer were killed on Tuesday when police attempted to reclaim protest sites near government buildings. Six people were wounded by a grenade on Friday.
Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej has intervened in previous political standoffs but the 86-year-old monarch has not commented publicly on the current impasse.
Thaksin's enemies accuse him of republican aspirations, a charge he has frequently denied.
Most Popular Slideshows
- Taylor Swift Named Forbes' Second Highest Paid Country Musician [PHOTOS]
- Forever Lost: Indescribable Anguish for Malaysia Airlines MH17 Families, Remains of Some Victims May Never Be Found (PHOTOS)
- Global Aviation Accidents: UN to Form Safety Task Force, Gov'ts Should Share Intelligence Info to Avert Future Incidents on Flying Over Warzones (PHOTOS)
- PageSix: Beyonce & Jay Z Union is Not About Love, All About Business & the Brand
Join the Conversation
- Iran Leader Asks Muslims to Supply Arms to Palestine, Calls Israel ‘Rapacious Wolf’
- El Niño Update: 2014 Threat Easing, ‘Unlikely to be a Strong Event’ – Australia BoM
- “Women should not laugh in public” - Turkish Deputy PM says
- Australia Asked National Media to Suppress Multi-National Corruption Case: WikiLeaks
- Opinion Poll in New Zealand Shows National Party Far Ahead in Popular Support
- Samsung Galaxy S5 Alpha Leaks Online: Release Date, Five Features to Wait for New Smart Phone
- Photos of Motorola Moto X+1 Prototype and Specs Leak Online, Release Date, Four Fresh Features Revealed
- Freshly Leaked Apple iPad Air 2 Cases Confirm Touch ID Sensor; Release Date, Limited Specs and Price Listed
- Sony Xperia Z3: Release Date, Five Features to Expect from New Android Smart Phone
- Moto X Android 4.4.4 KitKat Update Guide: Schedule and How to Install
- Top Surprising Features Of iOS 8
- Top 4 Reasons Why iPhone 6 Will Hit Big Soon After its Sept 2014 Release Date