At least six people have been injured in an explosion near an anti-government protest camp in central Bangkok, in the latest bout of violence since the months-long political crisis in Thailand began.
Thai police said a grenade was hurled from a bridge about 300 metres away from the Ratchaprason intersection, where anti-government protesters have been camped out for months, the Reuters news agency reported on Saturday.
Erawan emergency medical services said those injured were taken to nearby hospitals, according to the Associated Press, but did not immediately elaborate on their health conditions.
Three parked cars were damaged at the site by the night-time blast, Reuters quoted Thai police as saying.
Protesters have been blocking major intersections in central Bangkok for weeks, in an attempt to unseat Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra whom they accuse of being a puppet for her billionaire brother Thakisn, a former prime minister.
Five people, including a policeman, were killed in clashes on Tuesday when authorities tried to clear a protest site. Fifteen people have so far died and hundreds have been hurt in the recent political violence.
Angry farmers driving hundreds of tractors were meant to stage a protest at Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Friday, which was cancelled after they struck a last-minute deal with Yingluck, who agreed to make long-delayed payments on last year’s rice crops to them by next week. They vowed, however, to stage the protest next week if the payments are not made.
Embattled Yingluck’s wider opposition movement is mainly from the urban middle and upper classes, and has forced her to work out of alternating offices since December as they camped in the capital’s main intersections.
A potential impeachment vote by the National Anti-Corruption Commission triggered by accusations that she improperly handled an expensive rice subsidy programme has added to Yingluck’s challenges.
Under the programme, which is a flagship policy of Yingluck’s administration that helped win the votes of millions of farmers, the government bought Thailand’s staple grain at above-market prices. But the programme has accumulated losses of at least $4.46bn and has been dogged by corruption allegations.
It also left thousands of farmers, her natural backers, unpaid, adding momentum and numbers to her opposition.