Thai PM Calls for Talks as Police Use Rubber Bullets on Protesters
Bangkok – Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said on Monday she would “open every door” to find a peaceful solution to a political crisis gripping Bangkok as police used rubber bullets against protesters seeking to topple her government. The violence is the latest twist in a conflict pitting Bangkok’s middle class and royalist elite against the mostly poor, rural supporters of Yingluck and her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, a populist former prime minister who was ousted in a military coup in 2006 and lives in self-imposed exile.
Yingluck told a news conference that police would not use force, but the national security chief later said rubber bullets were being used as protesters threatened to advance on Yingluck’s office, the focal point of the demonstrations since the weekend. The number of protesters was well down on the 30,000 dispersed around various sites on Sunday, but hard-core elements had broken through concrete barriers set up around Government House, Yingluck’s office in the heart of Bangkok.
After using round upon round of teargas to repel them on Sunday, police stepped up their response on Monday. “We are alternating between the use of water cannons, teargas and rubber bullets. Rubber bullets are being used in one area only and that is the bridge near Government House,” Paradorn Pattanathabutr, the head of the National Security Council, told Reuters.
A Reuters reporter saw a youth in his early 20s fire at least three shots from a pistol in the direction of police protecting Government House. Protesters also threw dozens of Molotov cocktails. Officials at the nearby Ramathibodi Hospital declined to confirm media reports that two people had been admitted with gunshot wounds. They said a statement would be issued in the evening. (Reuters)