Grenade attack kills Thai protestor, injures seven

November 22nd, 2008 - 7:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangkok, Nov 22 (DPA) Unknown assailants launched a grenade at anti-government protesters Saturday, killing one person and injuring seven people, fanning worries that Thailand was heading for more political street violence this weekend, media reports said.Witnesses said two young men fired the device from an M-79 grenade launcher at guards for the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) outside Government House, the seat of the Thai government.

One of the eight victims died in hospital from shrapnel wounds to his body and neck, the Bangkok Post newspaper’s online news service said.

On Thursday, a similar early morning attack on the PAD killed one man and injured 24 other people.

The attacks on the PAD, a loose coalition of groups adamantly opposed to the return to power of exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, have intensified in recent weeks.

The PAD seized Government House Aug 26 and have occupied it since, demanding the resignation of the cabinet, which is now led by Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, Thaksin’s brother-in-law, and packed with Thaksin nominees and political allies.

Thaksin, a former billionaire telecommunications tycoon who used his personal fortune and populist policies to dominate Thai politics during his premierships from 2001 to 2006, was toppled by a coup two years ago.

He has been living in self-imposed exile since August, and is a fugitive from Thai justice.

The PAD has vowed to stage a mass rally of 100,000 people Sunday, when parliament convenes, to demand the resignation of the cabinet.

At its last mass protest on October 7, police opened fire with tear-gas canisters, leading to a melee that left two PAD followers dead and hundreds injured.

More than 1,700 police have been assigned to keep the peace at Sunday’s rally.

Xinhua added: Thailand’s army commander Lt. Gen. Kanit Sapitak Saturday dismissed speculation that the army could stage a coup amid the political turmoil.

“Coup is not on our mind. We have duties to protect the country and to protect the border,” he was quoted by The Nation daily as saying. The army would act only when ordered, he said.

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