22 injured as blast hits opposition rally in Thailand

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Bangkok, Jan 17: At least 22 people were injured on Friday when a grenade was lobbed at an anti-government rally in Bangkok, the latest attack by unknown assailants on opposition supporters seeking to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The blast occurred at the rally led by opposition leader and Peoples Democratic Reforms Committee movement chief Suthep Thaugsuban, who was unhurt. The explosion damaged a truck. An official said 22 people were injured when the grenade was lobbed at the rally from a three-storey building.

The anti-government protesters have been blocking major roads in Thai capital since Monday as part of their campaign to shutdown Bangkok and topple the 46-year-old prime minister. The opposition Democrat party, which has not won polls in two decades, has been venting its ire against the Yingluck government for two months now holding protest marches here.

The protesters want Yingluck and her brother out of Thai politics.

The protesters want Yingluck and her brother former premier Thaksin Shinawatra out of Thai politics. Thaksin was overthrown in a coup in 2006 and is in self-exile in Dubai. Yingluck has called for snap polls on February 2. But the opposition has said it will boycott the polls. Thailand's Election Commission has warned of a possible conflict leading to civil unrest if the elections went ahead.

Somchai Srisuthiyakorn, who is one of the five election commissioners, said postponement of the elections until May could help ease the situation between two sides. He said the extended period could be spent implementing reforms or changing laws, as demanded by the protesters.

"The government seems to opt for a war by pushing ahead with the February 2 election," Somchai said. "If we remain stubborn, we will see hell before us," the Nation paper quoted him as saying. He warned of possible riots by people who disagree with an early election. There could also be widespread outrage if police take action against voters who break the law.

On Wednesday, Yingluck, after meeting representatives from 37 parties, said the majority of the participants had agreed polls should be held on time. Ruling coalition spokesperson Aumnuay Khlangpha yesterday said he would sue the election commissioners if the February 2 election does not take place.

PTI

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