3 men have been arrested in over a bomb attack that injured 5 people who were part of a a pro-democracy demonstration near Chulalongkorn University earlier this month. The 5 people injured included 3 police and 2 protesters. The injuries were only minor.
The arrested men are 23 year old Pornchai Prakapuang, 30 year old Weerayut Sumritruangsri and 19 year old Nuttasut Siriaut. All 3 have been accused of throwing a ping pong bomb at police officers in front of Chamchuri Square building along Rama 4 Road in Bangkok on January 16.
At the time Bangkok police chief Phukphong Phongpetra claimed the device used “appears to be a pingpong bomb, which was filled with nails”.
Police claim that the 3 are members of the protesters’ security contingent who call themselves “Gear of Democracy”. The group became a staple at last year’s frequent student and anti-government protests. The 3 men are charged with assault, causing an explosion, carrying weapons into a residential area and illegal possession of explosives.
“The suspects confessed that they’re members of the Gear of Democracy group. They said they built the device themselves and intended to disrupt police operations.”
Police said the suspects threw the ping pong bombs whilst travelling on a motorbike going over an overpass near the Sam Yan Intersection along Rama 4 Road. They claim they threw the bomb into a group of police officers. 3 policemen ended up with minor injuries from the attack.
The incident was captured on CCTV footage providing police with evidence of the identity of the 3 men.
Demonstrators gathered across the street in front of Sam Yan Mitrtown shopping centre on January 16, calling for the release of fellow activists who had been arrested earlier for campaigning against the lese majeste laws in Thailand which prevent criticism of the monarch or royal family. Since November, at least 43 people have been charged with lese majeste, including underage students, mostly activists that helped organise the protests in Bangkok calling for monarchy and constitutional reforms.
Back on November 25 a similar device, believed to be a bag of firecrackers, was thrown at protesters as they were leaving a rally in front of the Siam Commercial Bank HQ.
No one was arrested at the time despite the incident being captured by a Thai news cameraman and lots of witnesses.
Police are trying to see if there’s evidence linking the 2 attacks although the 3 arrested men have only confessed to the January 16 crime.
A coalition of 10 protective security groups calling themselves the “Guard Coalition for the People,” released an online statement saying that the group was not involved in the attack. From their Twitter page…
“We will let the people decide about the results of investigation… We are not involved in the bombing, but we must ensure that the suspects are safe.”
Technically, authorities have banned any unauthorised public gatherings under the Emergency Decree, which remains in force. But the pro-democracy protests, and counter protests by government supporters, have gone ahead anyway.
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