Thai protesters surround police HQ a day after violent clashes
(Update: adds info on protesters surrounding police headquarters)
Bangkok, Nov 18 (efe-epa).- Thai student protesters surrounded the national police headquarters on Wednesday during a demonstration that was called after at least 55 people were injured, including six with gunshot wounds, in violent clashes near the parliament the previous night.
In a tense scene, large angry crowds shouted abuse and fired toy water pistols at officers who were barricaded inside the complex behind steel gates and barbed wire, while others covered the main entrance to the Royal Thai Police complex with paint and anti-monarchy and anti-government graffiti.
The rally was called in retaliation for the heavy-handed police dispersal of protesters from nearby the parliament building on Tuesday.
The demonstrators had gathered peacefully to press for reform as lawmakers debated constitutional amendments in the riverside parliament buildings.
Police fired tear gas and water cannons laced with irritants and purple dye to disperse the demonstrators, and also threatened to use rubber bullets, in the most violent day so far in months of protests.
Bangkok’s deputy police chief Pol Maj Gen Piya Tawicha insisted Wednesday that no rubber – or live – bullets were used by his department.
A group of royalists, who oppose constitutional amendments and who authorities allowed to pass without any suppression, also brawled with the protesters, throwing rocks and other projectiles.
Aside from the six people with gunshot wounds, also included in the 55 people taken to various hospitals with injuries Tuesday night were 32 suffering from the effects of tear gas, Erawan Emergency Medical Center said Wednesday.
Over Tuesday and Wednesday, Thai lawmakers were debating and then voting on several reform proposals presented by government groups, the opposition and the NGO Internet Law Reform Dialog (iLaw), which has the support of 100,000 signatures.