At least 3 police, 48 protesters injured in Bangkok clash: At least three police officers and 48 protesters were injured in a violent clash this morning at the Thai-Japanese Stadium where election preparations were taking place, according to Thai media reports.
Most of the protesters’ injuries were reportedly from tear gas and rubber bullets used by police.
The 48 protesters are receiving treatment at several different hospitals in Bangkok, said Metropolitan Adminstration’s Erawan Emergency Medical Service Center.
One of the riot control officers, Police Lance Corporal Thanapol Nopluay, 25, was reportedly shot by a live bullet in his right shoulder during the clash, and he is currently undergoing surgery. It is not known who or where the bullet was fired from.
The other police officers suffered injuries from objects thrown by protesters, ping pong bombs, and the tear gas, said reports.
An initial report said four policemen were injured, but the Center for the Administration of Peace and Order (Capo) said three officers were injured in a later statement on the incident.
A Capo spokesman said protesters threw molotov cocktails and firecrackers, and also fired metal nuts from catapults at police.
Pol Maj Gen Piya said an investigation would be launched and indicated that legal action would be taken against the protesters.
Capo defended the use of tear gas by police on the anti-government protesters who were trying to force their way into the stadium in the Din Daeng area of Bangkok to prevent the registration of candidates for the upcoming February 2 election.
Caretaker Foreign Minister and Capo chief Surapong Tovichakchaikul said police had used full restraint in dealing with the protesters, understanding their rights in demonstrating their opposition.
But police had no option but to use force as the protesters were not demonstrating peacefully, as earlier promised by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, he said.
Mr. Surapong, on a short national televised address, said police used tear gas and rubber bullets against the protesters when they invaded and destroyed government property in violation of the law.
He said the protesters were also obstructing the election process, as inside the stadium the drawing of candidacy numbers for the Feb 2 election under the party-list system was taking place under the supervision of the Election Commission.
The Capo chief said the government and police could no longer tolerate the protesters’ illegal actions, as the nation has laws that should be respected by all.
He said police started using tear gas and rubber bullets at about 7:20am, as the registration was due to begin at 9am.
Mr. Surapong insisted that the handling of the situation met international standards.
Reporters at the scene from The Nation News Agency, however, said that police only gave one warning to the protesters before firing the tear gas.
Despite the chaos outside the stadium, the Election Commission was able to complete the drawing of party-list numbers for the Feb election.