BANGKOK (AP) — Explosions and an overnight shooting attack on anti-government demonstrators in Thailand’s capital killed at least two people early Thursday, authorities said, the latest political violence to hit Bangkok over the last six months.
The city’s Erawan Medical Center, which tracks casualties, said 22 people were also wounded in the assault before dawn near the city’s Democracy Monument, where protesters are camping out.
The casualties bring the toll in political violence since protests began to oust the government in November to 27 dead and 800 wounded.
The crisis deepened last week when the Constitutional Court removed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for nepotism in a case that many viewed as politically motivated. Nine Cabinet ministers were also dismissed. Protesters say her removal is not enough; she was simply replaced by a caretaker premier from the ruling party, Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan.
The protesters are pushing the Senate and the nation’s courts to intervene in the crisis to install a “neutral” prime minister, but the government says that is a threat to the nation’s democratic system and would be tantamount to a judicial coup.
The protesters want to set up an unelected “people’s council” to implement still-undefined reforms to completely remove her family’s influence from politics before any elections, which the current ruling party would likely win because of widespread support among the rural poor.
Thailand’s political crisis began in 2006, when Yingluck’s brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was toppled by a military coup after being accused of corruption, abuse of power and disrespect for King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Thaksin, a former telecommunications billionaire, remains highly popular among the poor in Thailand’s north and northeast, and parties controlled by him have won every national election since 2001. The anti-government protesters, aligned with the opposition Democrat Party and backed by the country’s traditional elites, say they want to remove all traces of his political machine from politics.