Thai govt blames ‘3rd hand’ for Tuesday violence: The government of Thailand has blamed an unidentified “third hand” for Tuesday’s violence that resulted in at least five deaths and 70 injuries as police tried to retake a protest site in Bangkok, according to reports.
Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) chief Chalerm Yubamrung on Wednesday said a “third hand” was involved in Tuesday’s fatal clash between police and protesters from the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) at the Phan Fah Bridge rally site.
Tarit Pengdith, chief of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and also a member of the CMPO, on Wednesday strongly denounced “unidentified armed elements” which he said had mingled with the protesters during the police operation to retake the site.
Mr Chalerm said he was sorry about the deaths and injuries suffered by the police and the people.
He said he was confident the casualties were the work of a third party, but could not say clearly whether they were men of a certain colour, the Bangkok Post reported.
Mr Chalerm admitted that Tuesday’s events had affected the morale of the police, who did not have firearms. He claimed the protesters were armed.
He said PDRC protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban was to blame for leading the protesters to Government House despite being fully aware that violence could result, he said.
The chief insisted the CMPO had not over-stepped its authority.
Mr Tarit said the unidentified men had used lethal weapons, which included high explosive hand grenades, M79 grenades, high-velocity sniper rifles and handguns.
He claimed it was obvious that the PDRC leaders had agreed to let these armed elements mingle with the protesters, according to reports.
The police had only shields, batons and rubber bullets, he said, and their operation to clear the bridge was legal. Security forces had no intention of using lethal weapons against the protesters.
He admitted the crowd control police were backed up by an armed police unit, in order to protect them if they were in danger. However, this backup unit had not fired a shot on Tuesday, but just displayed their weapons in a tactic to subdue the other side, he said.
While Mr Suthep was claiming the police used weapons against the protesters, which caused injuries and death, foreign news agencies such as CNN and BBC said in their reports that the police were attacked with hand grenades, M79 rounds and rifle fire, noted Mr Tarit.
He said a policemen died and others were injured because they were not prepared for such an attack, and they were forced to retreat.
Mr Tarit also alleged that some protesters tried to obstruct soldiers while they were trying to evacuate wounded police and demonstrators.