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Phuket Gazette Thailand News: Second grenade attack in Bangkok injures 28; Agitators blamed for Friday blast; Rice farmers warn of final showdown

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Second grenade attack
The Nation / Phuket Gazette


PHUKET: Some 28 people, including a number of anti-government protesters, were wounded yesterday afternoon when two grenades were thrown at a rally site at Victory Monument.

Seven victims sustained serious injuries and were receiving treatment at four hospitals. One of the wounded is a female Post Today reporter, Sitthinee Huangnark.

Witnesses said the first grenade was thrown near a bus stop near the rally stage, which is located in front of Rajvithi Hospital.

After the first grenade went off at around 1.30pm, a group of protesters and rally guards chased a man suspected of throwing it. The suspect fired three shots in the air to scare away those chasing him, before lobbing another grenade down from a pedestrian flyover, injuring a second group of victims.

The suspect continued to flee on the pedestrian flyover, running into Rajvithi Soi 14. The man fired another shot at one of his pursuers, wounding him in the stomach, before running further into the soi and jumping on a waiting motorcycle, on which he fled.

Police later inspected the scene and identified two grenade pins as belonging to Russian-made RGD-5 grenades – the same type used in the attack on Friday on protesters at Banthad Thong Road. At least 36 people were wounded in that attack, and one died of his injuries early on Saturday.

Former Democrat MP Thaworn Senneam, a core leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, which is staging the Shutdown campaign, said the attack was meant to harm him. Thaworn is supervising the Victory Monument stage. He said feedback from PDRC guards was that there were probably six men who took part in the latest attack.

Army commander General Prayuth Chan-ocha deplored the attack, deputy Army spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree said yesterday, adding that the Army chief had ordered the military to adjust security plans with the government’s Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO).

The areas of adjustment include the location of road checkpoints and a request for police to hasten investigations into previous attacks, especially in gathering information on who was behind the attacks on protesters.

In an earlier attack on the PDRC’s Lat Phrao rally site at 11.20pm on Saturday, shots were fired at a

gate, seriously wounding a 53-year-old guard, the Erawan Emergency Medical Services Centre said.

Yesterday’s grenade attacks at Victory Monument prompted heightened security at all seven rally sites, especially the main venue at Pathumwan intersection.

PDRC core leader Satit Wongnongtaey said the additional measures include inspections of all protesters’ baggage, an expansion of security rings around all rally sites, and more patrol teams around them.

Satit said joint operations between PDRC guards and police at road checkpoints seemed useless to him, as no ordinary vehicles going in or travelling near protest sites had been searched. Instead, only ambulances had been searched by police, he said.

PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban led a march yesterday from the Lat Phrao rally site to nearby areas and return without incident.

PDRC spokesman Akanat Promphan said that daily marches by protesters would continue unabated, but the government and the police had failed to bringing those responsible for the attacks to justice. They had only put blame on the protest leaders. He said the anti-government movement and protesters would gain nothing from carrying out such attacks.

Friday’s attack blamed on third party
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The grenade attack on the anti-government march last Friday was the work of an ill-intentioned group bent on stirring up trouble and pointing blame toward the government, chief of the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) Surapong Tovichakchaikul said yesterday.

Surapong, who is also caretaker Deputy PM and Foreign Minister, said police could not gain access to the scene shortly after the attack because the PDRC leaders did not let them enter.

“There was an attempt to prevent police from getting inside to control the situation and collect evidence, which suggests that an ill-intentioned group wanted to create a situation whereby the government would be blamed [for the attack]. The attack was not aimed at protest leaders as [first] claimed,’ he said.

Deputy Bangkok Police Chief Pol Maj-General Adul Narongsak said ini?tial investigations found that the area where the BB guns were found was far from the scene of the bomb blast. Shortly after the attack, PDRC guards refused to allow police entry to the scene, which hampered the investiga?tion. A number of military personnel were the first to be allowed access. Police were allowed entry later.

Adul said it was unlikely the grenade was thrown from a building nearby, as there were many obstacles in the way. And CCTV footage did not show any object being thrown into the area just before the blast occurred.

Adul said the footage showed a sus?pect in a white cap quickly take cover behind a telephone-exchange box just before the deadly explosion. After the blast, another man got out of a pick-up and ran straight to the man with the white cap. The two quickly collected some objects near the blast site with?out paying attention to the injured peo?ple. The footage, he said, had led police to believe that the suspects mingled with protesters before the blast.

“We can confirm that people responsible for the attack were among the protesters as the footage captured both their images and voices,’ he said.

Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission issued a statement condemning those responsible for the attack on Friday and called on all sides to refrain from using violence and to urgently hold talks to end the crisis.

Police officers from North, NE removed from Govt House
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The police have agreed to withdraw about two of their companies from the Government House area after being asked to leave by the Students and People Network for Thailand’s Reform (STR). The policemen were mainly from provinces in the North and the Northeast.

STR security chief Nasser Yeema led network supporters to Government House to ask the police to maintain only two companies from Samut Sakhon and Suphan Buri inside the compound.

Demonstrators destroy ballot papers
The Nation / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: People’s Democratic Reform Committee protesters have torn up some ballot papers for the February 2 election that were kept at a printing house on Lat Phrao Road, Election Commission (EC) secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said Saturday.

The protesters on Friday laid siege to the Kurusapa printing house, where ballot papers are printed. Election officials found that some ballot papers had been destroyed.

The EC has yet to check the extent of the damage because the protesters declared that no official was to go inside the printing house. They also put glue in the building’s locks, Puchong said.

EC

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Economy

Thailand Consumer Confidence Index hits record low

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Thailand's Consumer Confidence index slips again to below the pre-pandemic record. (via CNN)

The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce has reported that the Consumer Confidence Index has hit another new record low of 46.0 in April. The Covid-19 global pandemic has had a devastating effect on the economy and consumer confidence has fallen frequently to the lowest points that it has seen since 1998.

The president of the UTTC believes that consumers generally don’t feel like there has been much of a recovery for the economy since the global pandemic began and without a stimulating event to motivate economic growth, the index is expected to continue to fall further. The university estimated that if the third wave of Covid-19 continues past the end of May the economy can expect to lose 400 to 600 billion baht.

The UTTC president stressed that the government should hasten to step up relief measures and make sure they continue relief and economic stimulus throughout the pandemic to avoid economic catastrophe. He predicted that the economy and the Consumer Confidence Index will continue on a downward slope without any hope of improvement until the vaccine rollout gets well underway towards herd immunity, and new Covid-19 infections are decreased dramatically.

Today saw another 2,101 new Covid-19 infections and 17 deaths in Thailand. Vaccination efforts are continually being stepped up, but still remain woefully slow.

The Consumer Confidence Index first started falling last year, with a drop below the previous record low in 1998 in April of 2020, when it fell to 47.2. A few months later, by July of last year, it had recovered significantly, climbing back over 50. But by March of this year, the index had fallen again to 48.5. With April’s tumble of 2.5 points, the Consumer Confidence Index pushes once again to a new record low.

SOURCE: Thai Business News

 

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Thailand

Thailand searches for cow vaccine for lumpy skin disease

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: An example of a cow with Lumpy Skin Disease. (via newindianexpress)

Move over Covid-19 there’s a new disease sweeping the country as Thailand’s cow population is afflicted with a lumpy skin disease. The Department of Livestock Development is now working on procuring vaccines from overseas manufacturers to import and treat the cattle population in Thailand. The lumpy skin is caused by pustules that are the most visible symptom, perhaps more detectable than other bovine signs such as drooling, loss of appetite and drowsiness.

The cow disease is spreading in the North, Northeast, and Central Plains area of Thailand and has been found in 18 provinces total. First identified in Roi Et, it has now spread in Chiang Rai, Kalasin, Kanchanaburi, Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakham, Nakhon Pathom, and Nakhon Phanom. The first case of the lumpy skin disease was reported in Don Daeng village last month and on April 9th officials reported it to the World Organisation for Animal Health.

The lumpy skin disease is found in cow pens and spread through flies, ticks, and mosquitoes, but the DLD says not to panic, it is not transmissible to humans. The department is distributing important information about symptoms and how the disease spreads to breeders and farmers in the area. They’re requiring the breeders to monitor their cattle closely and have imposed measures to control the disease in heavy hit areas.

To prevent the spread of disease in livestock, traders are being requested to not buy and sell cattle within 50 km from disease-stricken regions. And for farmers caring for cattle, the DLD recommends spraying insecticide in all areas to prevent transmission via insects. Finally, in case the cattle were jealous of traveling humans, the DLD is advising farmers to prevent disease spread by isolating any new cow that comes into their farms with a 28-day bovine quarantine where they should be kept under nets to keep insects away.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Tourism

Covid-19 third wave cuts Thai domestic flights predictions by 38%

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Airports are sparse with domestic flight travel predictions down 38%. (via Snappy Goat)

The Aeronautical Radio of Thailand is predicting a 38% drop in travel by domestic flights due to the effect of the third wave of Covid-19. Aerothai is a department under the Ministry of Transport that provides aeronautical communication and air traffic control in Thailand. With Covid-19 experiencing a rapid spread beginning in April and not yet under control, infections across all of Thailand’s 77 provinces are projected to drastically hamper local travel until at least September.

The fiscal year, beginning last October, was originally predicted to have almost 519,000 domestic flight. But Aerothai has now reduced those figures down 38% to just over 323,000 flights in Thailand. The executive vice president for operations of Aerothai said that by the second half of April domestic flights had been severely reduced despite remaining relatively stable in early April.

The Civil Aviation Authority has also added increased restrictions on the way passengers are carried, adding another layer of difficulty for the domestic airlines who have slashed their schedules after having a bumper Songkran holiday period and were looking forward to better times ahead.

Flight reductions were a result of attempts to reduce and contain the spread of Covid-19 by implementing strict travel and safety measures. While domestic travel was strongly affected by Thailand’s second wave of Covid-19 at the beginning of 2021, the current wave is much worse and Aerothai predicts domestic flights will reach their lowest point by the end of May.

An expectation of recovery beginning next month hinges on international flights starting to slowly creep back into Thailand. The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has loosened the restrictions for international travel in preparation for the government’s plan to relaunch the tourism industry in key hotspots of Thailand like Phuket and Koh Samui in July. Aerothai is hoping that by August domestic flights will return to the levels seen at the end of 2020 before the second wave of Covid-19, with about 1,095 daily flights.

Aerothai has been tracking flight statistics since it was founded in 1948 by a group of airlines with the approval of the Royal Thai Government. In 1963 the government took on a majority stake in the company from the founding airlines and converted it to a state enterprise operating under the Ministry of Transport.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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