2014-01-11 19:21:13

Several injured in Thailand clashes

(Vatican Radio) Armed clashes broke out on Saturday between pro- and anti-government protests in Thailand’s capital Bangkok, leaving several people injured as the city prepares for widespread disruptions next week. Gangs of protestors and government supporters fought street battles on the outskirts of the capital. Emergency services personnel carried victims away, some of them apparently with gunshot wounds.

Until Saturday, ongoing protests had largely been peaceful. This is some of the first violence involving pro-government activists. The party of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra won the last election with a big majority, and retains strong support in some parts of Thailand. Many supporters are frustrated by the past two months of protests and by opponents threatening to bring Thailand to a halt this Monday, in what they describe as a widespread shutdown of Bangkok, with a blockade of its streets.

Prime Minister Shinawatra says the police and army will deploy more than 20,000 personnel on Monday to maintain peace, warning that extremists might use the day to instigate violence. She insists a snap election will go ahead three weeks from now, as planned. But the unrest may already be taking a toll on Thailand's economy. Reports quote officials as saying fewer tourists may be travelling there this month, and airlines have cancelled some of their flights to Thailand amid weaker demand.

Listen to Alastair Wanklyn’s report: RealAudioMP3

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