Unicef urges 'child-free' protest sites after deaths of three children

THAILAND - The UN Children's Fund (Unicef) on Monday urged the Thai government, anti- and pro-government leaders and parents to protect children by keeping them away from all rally sites.

The statement came after two political-related attacks during the weekend claimed lives of children, aged 4, 5 and 6 and some others children who are still in critical condition.

Bijaya Rajbhandari, Unicef's representative in Thailand, said the organisation "condemns the violence that resulted in these tragic and senseless deaths and injuries to children. These incidents underscore the urgent need to keep children out of harm's way in order to ensure their safety."

Rajbhandari added areas within and around the protest barricades should become "child-free zones" to ensure there are no further fatalities or injuries among children. He also called upon authorities to ensure that those responsible for the attacks are brought to justice.

Unicef urged the government, pro- and anti-government protest leaders and all parents to ensure children do not enter protest sites and are kept well away from all protest areas.

A 5-year-old girl was killed when gunmen attacked an anti-government rally in Trat province on Saturday night, while a 4-year-old boy and his 6-year-old sister died after bomb blast in Ratchdamri in late Sunday afternoon.

Another 5-year-old girl remained in a coma on Monday at Rayong Hospital and a 9-year-old boy was in intensive care at a Bangkok hospital.