Two Thai protesters dead, 21 wounded in gun and grenade attack

BANGKOK: Two anti-government protesters were killed and 21 were wounded in a gun and grenade attack early Thursday in Bangkok, medical officials and police told AFP, stoking fears of wider political violence in the crisis-hit kingdom.

Police said two M79 grenades were launched into a protest site at the city’s Democracy Monument — a stone’s throw from the city’s famed backpacker zone — and were followed by gunshots.

“The first victim was a protester who was sleeping at Democracy Monument, while the second victim was a protest guard who died from gunshots,” Police Major Wallop Prathummuang told AFP.

In a statement on its website, the city’s Erawan Emergency Centre said two people were killed and 21 wounded in the attack, which took place at 3am (2000 GMT Wednesday).

There were no immediate reports of the identity of the gunmen, but both pro- and anti-government supporters are known to have armed hardliners. The deaths take the toll from six months of protests aimed at toppling the government to 27, with hundreds of others wounded in gun and grenade attacks linked to rallies.

Fears have intensified that the nation’s political deadlock could spiral into street clashes since the ousting of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra by the nation’s Constitutional Court last week.

Her “Red Shirt” supporters have been holding a rally in a Bangkok suburb and have vowed to defend the government, which has limped on despite her removal from office, along with nine cabinet members over an abuse of power case.