Gunmen Injure Five in Protests Ahead of Thailand's National Election
Tensions are beginning to boil over in the Thai capital, with several people being injured by gunfire in Bangkok Saturday morning, after clashes broke out during a stand-off between Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s supporters and her opponents. The violence comes a day before Sunday's national elections, with the anti-government demonstrators continuing to hold their ground, saying they'll keep trying to shut down Bangkok and derail the elections.
According to reports, the gunshots erupted as protestors attempted to blockade a building storing ballot papers; roughly eight gunmen, allegedly from the anti-government demonstrator group, began shooting at pro-government protestors and police forces. The shooting continued for roughly thirty minutes, injuring at least six people, including journalist Nick Nostitz, who was caught up in the gunfire — it's not clear yet what his conditions is.
The unstable situation is reaching breaking point — in spite of efforts to postpone the elections, Yingluck and her election commission members decided earlier this week to hold the vote as planned, incensing the opposition, who are calling for her allegedly corrupt government to step down, so they can put in place their own non-elected “people’s council." Their worry is that Yingluck’s party, Pheu Thai — which is widely supported by the poorer, rural areas of Thailand — will easily just win again, and continue to be controlled from afar by Yingluck’s brother, ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
”We fear that there will be clashes on election day,” election official Somchai Srisutthiyakorn said. “As election officials, it is our job to make sure elections are successful, but we also need to make sure the country is peaceful enough to hold the election. We don’t want it to be bloody.”
The fears of more blood aren't unfounded. Ten days ago — after a gruesome week that saw the killing of an activist leader, two grenade attacks and nine deaths — the government imposed a 60-day state of emergency for the city, effectively allowing the government to censor media, place curfews, use military force to quell violence, break up gatherings, and detain suspects without charge. And it'll probably be far from over tomorrow — the opposition demonstrators have so far managed to stop some candidates from registering, meaning that the results of the election might not yield enough seats, which could mean that the government would be paralyzed for up to six months.