BANGKOK: Gunmen opened fire near several opposition protest sites in Bangkok Wednesday, stoking tensions in the capital as Thailand’s embattled prime minister flew to her political stronghold in the north.
Street violence, often targeting protesters, has become a near-daily feature of the almost four-month-long crisis gripping Thailand, with the toll standing at 22 dead and hundreds wounded.
Police said unknown gunmen fired sporadically early Wednesday for around an hour in three areas of Bangkok where demonstrators are camped out alongside upscale shopping malls and luxury hotels.Nobody was wounded.
“We don’t know which side fired the shots, but the aim of the gunmen is to intimidate,” deputy national police spokesman Anucha Romyanan told AFP.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is under intense pressure to step down with the protesters calling for an unelected “people’s council” to tackle corruption and a culture of money politics.
Her supporters say they will not accept the removal of an elected government by the protesters, military or the courts, raising fears of a protracted standoff.
Yingluck has been summoned by an anti-graft panel on Thursday to hear charges of neglect of duty in connection with a rice subsidy scheme that the opposition says is rife with corruption.
If found guilty she could be removed from office and face a five-year ban from politics.
Yingluck flew to the northern city of Chiang Rai on Wednesday to inspect government-backed projects, saying she might not attend the National Anti-Corruption Commission hearing.