Protest death toll rises to 8

Protest death toll rises to 8

BANGKOK - Eight people have been killed and more than 300 injured over the past two months due to the overheating political tension that led to clashes with police on Thursday and a drive-by shooting early yesterday.

An anti-government protester was shot dead and three others seriously injured by unknown gunmen at a demonstration site near Government House early yesterday morning, emergency medical staff said.

The four men were shot just after 3am on Saturday near gate number 4 at Government House, according to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's Erawan Emergency Medical Services Centre.

A man was also shot while driving near Government House about an hour later (4am), police said.

Yottana Aongart from Chumphon was shot in the torso. The bullet pierced from the right to the left side of his body. He was admitted at Klang Hospital but died shortly after.

Yottana, 26, was the eighth death in the anti-government protest. Five of these died at Ramkhamhaeng University at the start of the month, while two were killed in a clash between police and protesters at the Thai-Japanese Stadium in Din Daeng on Thursday. More than 300 others have also been injured, some seriously.

In the situation early yesterday, Saneh Lohasart was shot in the left ankle and sent to Rajavithi Hospital, while Surapong Somklaew, 19, was shot twice in the body and Pravit Thongprang, 25, shot above a knee. The latter two were sent to Ramathibodi Hospital.

Police Captain Surapol Jaihao of Nang Lerng police station said police found four bullets of unidentified sizes, plus bullet holes in an electricity generator and a concrete barrier nearby. Investigators would check close-circuit video from Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and nearby schools.

Surapol said a pickup truck "led" a car to the scene before unknown gunmen in the backseat of the car lowered the window to shoot the four men.

Forensic police went to the scene yesterday to collect evidence but said it would take time before results of the close-circuit camera investigation would emerge.

Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) spokesman Pol Major Gen Piya Uthayo said in a press conference at 1.30pm yesterday that a group of men in a gold-bronze Toyota with unidentified licence plate drove from Phitsanulok Road through Nang Lerng intersection straight to Chamai Maruchet bridge. They stopped the car and sprayed shots into barriers near the Students and People's Network for Thailand's Reform (STR) protest site, before fleeing toward Rama V Road.

Moreover, Sombat Nakpetch, 48, was shot in the leg while driving past Oratai Bridge near Government House as he and his wife were delivering food to police officers in Government House, Piya said.

He said the gunshots were fired from within 200 metres.

When Sombat tried to drive to a hospital, his pick-up crashed into a police booth on Rama VI Road, Piya said. Sombat was treated at Kasemrad Hospital, in Prachacheun.

Piya said police would discuss with STR on strengthening the security in the area.

People's Democratic Reform Committee spokesman Akanat Promphan called for police to take responsibility, saying it was their duty to ensure the safety of protesters.

Deputy Metropolitan Police commissioner Maj-General Thitiraj Nonghanpitak said police would investigate thoroughly and make the case clear to prevent further conflict. He asked people not to presume who the wrongdoers are.

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