Gunfire at Lak Si as rivals clash

Gunshots rang out at Lak Si intersection late Saturday afternoon as anti- and pro-government supporters clashed.

Six people were reported wounded in the incident in northern Bangkok on the eve of an election that has left the country deeply divided.

On Saturday at 8.30pm the Election Commission (EC) announced that voting in Lak Si on Sunday would be cancelled.

The EC said it would not open 158 polling units in the district as offcials had failed in negotiations with protesters to obtain the ballots from the blockaded district office. A new election will be held later.

Saturday's clashes began shortly before 4pm when the sound of a bomb was heard. An hour later, witnesses reported noises that sounded like firecrackers, but which turned out to be hundreds of gunshots. The firing continued for nearly 30 minutes.

The Erawan Medical Centre said the six injured people, four men and two women, had been taken to hospital.

As the shooting intensified, people in the area ran to take shelter on a nearby covered pedestrian bridge, and in Lak Si Plaza and the IT Square mall.

Among the wounded was a Daily News reporter and an American photographer, James Nachtwey. Journalists wear light-green armbands for safety but the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) has adopted similar bands.

The Thai Journalists Association urged the PDRC to change its colours and end the confusion so reporters don't become targets.

Soldiers were reported to be moving into the area to help police control the situation. By around 6.30pm relative calm had been restored.

The clashes erupted after rival groups of demonstrators had taken up positions just 500 metres apart and some appeared to be spoiling for a fight.

Women and children were allowed to take shelter inside the blockaded Lak Si district office in case trouble broke out.

The anti-government protesters led by Luang Pu Buddha Issara surrounded the district office on Friday to stop it from being used as a polling station.

Luang Pu Buddha Issara asked officials to leave the office by noon as protesters would seal the premises and cut water and electricity until Sunday evening.

On the other side, around 200 red-shirt supporters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship gathered at Lak Si temple, just 500 metres from the district office.

Ballot boxes and papers for other polling stations in Constituency 11 were also being stored at the office.

Election Commission officials and Pol Col Charoen Srisaluck, deputy superintendent of Metropolitan Police Division 2, went to negotiate with the PDRC in order to get into the district office and get the ballots. However, the talks were unsuccessful and EC officials left the office.

While voting on Sunday is expected to go ahead without incident in the northern and northeastern provinces loyal to the Pheu Thai Party, more disruptions are expected in Bangkok and the South.

PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban has said that members would not obstruct voting but some of its more radical followers disrupted many advance polls and forced their closure last Sunday.

Election officials are also having trouble getting into sites where ballots are stored in some areas of the South. As a result, voting could be affected in as many as 14 southern provinces.

The Democrat Party is boycotting Sunday's poll, which is costing taxpayers 3.8 billion baht and will not produce enough MPs to convene a sitting of the House of Representatives. That could take four to five more months of byelections to achieve.

A total of 130,000 police will be deployed at polling stations nationwide to maintain order during Sunday's election, according to Chalerm Yubamrung, the director of the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order.

Twenty-seven companies of soldiers would also be deployed to help police ensure that people who want to vote can do so, he said.

Video clip is taken by Bangkok Post photographer Apichit Jinakul.

Share your thoughts

Discussion 1 : 02/02/2014 at 04:19 PM
Allegedly. This is Thailand and nothing surprises.
Discussion 2 : 02/02/2014 at 04:05 PM
@ homosapien. Since the history of Thailand's democracy, how many constitutional reform have we had? I'll tell you, 18. The democratic framework you are talking about is only a system operated to build into the system benefitting influential parties hold on the country. Every day I dream of great groups of thai people with the foresight, intelligence and integrity who would win the hearts of people and bring this country to where I think every thai people deserve, but in the political climate that is thailand. It is hard for such a person to play into this 'money' political system. It takes more than virtue to win an election.
Discussion 3 : 02/02/2014 at 01:42 PM
no doubt the leader of the pdrc will insist that the shooter was a plant! after all, he contends that his party has always maintained peaceful protests, and since everyone loves him (as he contends), he must be right! you believe this you will believe anything! lets not forget the seven people who lost their lives during his peaceful protests of the past few months! all for what? the throwing out of the amnesty bill, correct me if i am wrong, but thats the only thing he will be remembered for!
Discussion 4 : 02/02/2014 at 12:47 PM
I definitely expect from PT democrats much more than anti democrats from Suthep & Co.
Discussion 5 : 02/02/2014 at 12:29 PM
It's ridiculous that people who supposedly want "real" democracy have never-ever even "try"to fight for the change wihin the democratoc fraamework we already have. They never present themselves as another potent and viable alternative as a political party or civil society. All they did is talk drivel, holding on to and taking advantage of undemocratic powers (you know what I mean). The alternative to PTP is unelected body beyond any check and balance, even worse than the current half-baked system. That's very repugnant to say the least.
Discussion 6 : 02/02/2014 at 11:34 AM
Two month of hate and destruction and now this shooting by the 'peaceful' protesters, but the reds are to blame.
Discussion 7 : 02/02/2014 at 11:25 AM
The mainstream of the protesters and their leaders are not interesting in Thailand democracy or well being. They eyes only how to gain power without asking the population.
Discussion 8 : 02/02/2014 at 10:48 AM
the best comment I've read in a month
Discussion 9 : 02/02/2014 at 09:52 AM
ever thought for a minute that the UDD cold have sent in people wearing PDRC armbands ?… just a thought
Discussion 10 : 02/02/2014 at 03:56 AM
They stay away as usual so that they don't get blamed and attacked from both sides.
Discussion 11 : 02/02/2014 at 02:30 AM
I know that there are many people who wants to vote but also doesn't want Thaksin to control the country. What I don't get is how they think voting will do much good. Do you really think that Yingluk will not win the election if there is a vote. The country is in chaos, the system of democracy is corrupt and how will playing by the rules of a corrupt system help the country. People has got to decide what they want more, clinging to this fake democracy that is killing our country and splitting the country in two or break the rules in order to fully try and save this country that I think we all love.
Discussion 12 : 02/02/2014 at 02:29 AM
"The shooter above is wearing the green armband of a guard from the "non-violent" PDRC." A precise description by BP. DSI will have to apply for another arrest warrant for this PDRC shooter.
Discussion 13 : 02/02/2014 at 02:14 AM
@Bewildered Before your go anti - Democracy. You should be support pro - right to cast their vote.
Discussion 14 : 02/02/2014 at 01:47 AM
Protesters have conveniently abused the chance caretaker government gives. In order to keep its promises not to use force to disperse them, the caretaker government chooses to stand firmly tolerated with them. But, these protesters get benefit of an inch later on ask for one foot of gold. What they try to do? To only try to destroy Thailand's economy to press PM and the caretaker government to step down unconstitutionally and relentlessly care nothing for the suffer people encounter.
Discussion 15 : 02/02/2014 at 01:27 AM
Are you okay, sir?
Discussion 16 : 02/02/2014 at 01:20 AM
My prayers go out to all those who have been hurt in these confrontation. It's becoming unbearable reading these articles and looking for some hope of a peaceful resolution.
Discussion 17 : 02/02/2014 at 12:32 AM
Anyone with crocodile tears wouldn't have problem with sleeping at night during situation like this.
Discussion 18 : 01/02/2014 at 10:16 PM
Are you sure that he wasn't sitting in a car with Thaksin ?
Discussion 19 : 01/02/2014 at 10:07 PM
138000 police and people are left to gun battles in the street .I saw the police today .You know what they were doing ? Thy set up pylons in the road and pulled people over for traffic violations although drivers weren't doing anything just like in the bad old days before they stopped this menace .Red shirts equals gunfire and the police should bloody well know it .
Discussion 20 : 01/02/2014 at 09:50 PM
I've asked the same question for a month now. Where are the police?
Discussion 21 : 01/02/2014 at 09:25 PM
When you tend to stop people from doing what they want and going on about their daily lives you tend to get a percentage that will turn to violence.
Discussion 22 : 01/02/2014 at 09:22 PM
I saw several VDO about the Laksi'clash....and I saw some PRDC people, I saw some Red/UDD thugs, I saw some soldiers.....but where is the POLICE of the big zorro chief Chalerm ????? This is a big failure of CMPO....
Discussion 23 : 01/02/2014 at 09:21 PM
They are part of the problem but far from being the problem if you know anything about Thai history.
Discussion 24 : 01/02/2014 at 09:15 PM
Changing the government will at most have a temporary effect on the level of corruption in Thailand. The real problem is that most people who seek political power only care about their own personal gain. This has not changed throughout all of recorded history and is not likely to change anytime soon. What Suthep should be demanding is that Thailands government finances should be made public for its citizens. This would make it easier for journalists and the opposition (be they red or yellow) to put a light to corrupt practices, and make it easier for voters to make a good choice of government.
Discussion 25 : 01/02/2014 at 08:31 PM
I think there is a big difference between killing and stopping voting, that is unless you a red supporter.
Discussion 26 : 01/02/2014 at 08:06 PM
The beginning of Civil War, here we come!
Discussion 27 : 01/02/2014 at 08:04 PM
Do What ever is necessary to remove Thaksin and also his thug Red Shirts.
Discussion 28 : 01/02/2014 at 07:59 PM
i agree that people have a right to vote, but people also have a right to protest without being shot at also
Discussion 29 : 01/02/2014 at 07:58 PM
And if the anti-government protesters don't get their way, stop everyone from voting! There is plenty of blame to go around, corruption, violence, indicted, convicted walking around scot free! Sometimes I am amazed how farangs seem to think they understand, and then validate one side or the other. I sincerely doubt any of you would try to justify any of this in your own country.
Discussion 30 : 01/02/2014 at 07:56 PM
This pointless election is driving a wedge right through Thai society. All for the selfish and vain interests of Thaksin and his lackeys. This blood is on Yingluck's hands now : how does she sleep at night ?.
Discussion 31 : 01/02/2014 at 07:47 PM
soon the redshirts will start attacking hospitals, burn down buildings and kill innocent thais again.
Discussion 32 : 01/02/2014 at 07:46 PM
What action did the Army take, as there is a rapid response team stationed on that very corner, then the 13th medical battalion is stationed just a short distance from there. With all the highly trained military in that very area, that wounded person should not have had to wait 30 minutes for help. He should not have had to wait more than 5 minutes, given the closeness of the Army to that exact location, right across the road.
Discussion 33 : 01/02/2014 at 07:30 PM
The photo on the front page is not "A man takes aims before shooting toward a group of anti-government protesters near the Lak Si intersection in Bangkok" - He is an anti-government protester wearing a green armband (press).
Discussion 34 : 01/02/2014 at 07:29 PM
Yes, the army will protect the people in an "overall" sense of the word, but it's completely impossible to protect evey individual one on one.
Discussion 35 : 01/02/2014 at 07:26 PM
What kind of superior rights those people pretend to have to shoot and kill their opponents would be a more realistic question.
Discussion 36 : 01/02/2014 at 07:25 PM
"A total of 130,000 police will be deployed" Who cares, a two hour gun fight in the middle of town, where were they. Ohh, I know, putting "Ja Choey" dummies up to do the job. Absolutely disgusting, this election exercise will be rightfully dismissed.
Discussion 37 : 01/02/2014 at 07:21 PM
It is the Shinnawatras and the Gangs again, is this the type of Democracy you want?
Discussion 38 : 01/02/2014 at 07:06 PM
Only the police is able to to provide this type of opportunity for the red shirts to fire.
Discussion 39 : 01/02/2014 at 06:24 PM
What kind of superior rights those people pretend to have to install nepotism on untenable promises? The PT vote for a convicted felon is one thing, violation of human rights they know all about. But after all, what do you expect from the red leaders?
Discussion 40 : 01/02/2014 at 06:14 PM
All of this could have been prevented if Yingluck, who has already been fully discredited, would have just stepped down, with or without her fugitive brother's permission. The Shinawatra clan is the cause of this country's problems, not the solution. Even the red shirts will acknowledge that.
Discussion 41 : 01/02/2014 at 06:11 PM
Photos are emerging from the NationWeekend website which are showing, not protesters being shot, but innocent shoppers and passerby's. One photo shows a hard core UDD leader sitting in a police car and giving orders to the red shirts. Something is very wrong here.
Discussion 42 : 01/02/2014 at 05:53 PM
Not worst than the PT ramming elections down the throat of the people
Discussion 43 : 01/02/2014 at 05:49 PM
So if the pro-government do not get what they want, kill anti-government protesters. This has been going on since 2001, and no one is arrested. I wonder why?
Discussion 44 : 01/02/2014 at 05:49 PM
As soon as the Red thugs are involved there is death and violence.
Discussion 45 : 01/02/2014 at 05:44 PM
This is a sham fake election and is so obvious to most, it is the Shinawatras clinging to power so they can keep their family run dictatorship. Obviously the commentators here are quite happy with the Thaksin clan ruining the country. In my opinion this is a terrible dictatorship for Thailand and the country is in the sewer swimming with corruption. What ever is necessary to remove the Thaksin poison should be carried out.
Discussion 46 : 01/02/2014 at 05:41 PM
And where is the army, that promised to protect the people?
Discussion 47 : 01/02/2014 at 04:18 PM
What kind of superior rights those people pretend to have to not let other cast their vote ? The "no vote' or abstention is one thing, refrain others to vote is a violation of fundamental human right. But after all, why do you expect from the PDRC ?

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