Political chaos claims fourth child victim

Parents hold up banners urging people to keep protest areas.

TRAT PROVINCE, Thailand - A five-year-old girl yesterday succumbed to injuries sustained when unknown attackers hurled grenades and fired at a rally site of anti-government protesters in Trat.

Dr Anurak Amornphetsatha-porn, director of the Emergency Public Health Service Office of the Public Health Ministry, said Natchaya Rosungnern gave up the fight at the Rayong Hospital at 2.20pm yesterday.

The child had been injured by a bomb fragment and went brain dead before succumbing to injuries.

She was the second person to die from an attack launched against People' Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters in Trat's Khao Saming district on Saturday and the fourth child to have been killed in the ongoing political turmoil.

The first victim, also a five-year-old girl, was pronounced dead on Sunday. Apart from these two children, 33 other people were also injured in the attack in Trat.

Separately, in the early hours of yesterday morning, a series of bombs exploded and gunshots were heard in the Silom area near the PDRC rally, which is based near the Sala Daeng intersection. The gunfight reportedly lasted for several hours, injuring two people.

At 2am yesterday, bombs exploded and gunshots were heard in front of Thaniya Plaza on Silom Road. Two PDRC guards were injured in the attack, but are said to be in stable condition. Gunfire was heard in three spots around Silom, namely the Wireless Road intersection, Sarasin intersection and the Henri Dunant intersection.

According to a guard, a woman drove to the area at 8pm on Monday night, asking if she could drive through the protest site near Lumpini Park. When the guard said no, she told him to be ready for a heavy payback.

Then at about 1am yesterday, a PDRC guard said three to four men showed up and started firing at them when the guards tried to stop them. Two guards were injured. Shots were also fired from an unidentified van.

PDRC leader and former Democrat MP Thaworn Senneam inspected the site yesterday morning and called on the Army to send in personnel to beef up security. He also put the attack down to the government.

Lumpini police visited the scene after sunrise yesterday, saying they could not enter the area earlier because the PDRC guards would not let them in.

Chalerm Yoobamrung, chief of the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO), said there were no less than 500 armed men at the four PDRC protest sites and that he knows what sort of weapons they are using.

He went on to say that the PDRC was not a simple protest group calling for democracy, but a gang of "armed bandits" attacking its own people in a move to create a climate for military intervention.

In a related development, deputy spokesperson of Democrat Party Jurin Laksanawisit called on the police to send more officers to ensure safety of protesters.

Also yesterday, Lt-General Paradorn Pattanatabut, who oversees, the National Security Council (NSC) said it was possible that the people behind the attacks were linked to the violence before the 2006 coup as claimed by Chalerm, or linked to the attacks in 2010 as claimed by Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

However, he admitted that more investigation was needed.

He also alleged that former communist leaders could be behind the spate of attacks, adding that the violence was aimed at making it appear as if the government was behind the attack.

The NSC chief said former communists leaders were embedded within the PDRC corps and that there were no foreign mercenaries operating in Thailand. Paradorn acknowledged that it was difficult to deal with these armed groups as the law limits the government in what it can do.

He also called on the attackers to not use grenades or bombs as it causes harm indiscriminately.