BANGKOK — Shots were fired by unidentified assailants at pro-democracy protesters as they were leaving their rally at the headquarters of Thailand’s oldest bank on Wednesday night, wounding at least two people.
Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud explosion, followed by 3-4 gunshots, at about 10.15pm, soon after the protest in front of Siam Commercial Bank’s main office concluded. One of the assailants was apprehended while he was trying to run away with others; the rest reportedly managed to flee the scene.
Sombat Thongyoi, one of the volunteer guards who provided security for the protesters, said two people were shot. Both of them were sent to hospital.
“We cannot yet establish whether it was a personal matter or politically motivated,” Sombat said.
Forensic police at the scene said they found traces of bullets; police also said they found a handgun on the man apprehended by the protest guards, though it is unclear as of publication time if it was the same firearm used in the shooting.
A live video by The Standard news agency captured the moment the explosive was thrown at the protesters. It is not immediately confirmed what type of material it was; some reports said a firecracker, others a pipe bomb.
A man could be seen throwing what is believed to be a firecracker near today’s protest site on @thestandardth livestream. A loud bang was reportedly heard at around 10.15pm, an hour after the protest ended. Unconfirmed reports say at least one person was hurt. #ม็อบ25พฤศจิกา https://t.co/VIm8z0rE52
— Tappanai Boonbandit (@tappanai_b) November 25, 2020
It was the second time in little over a week firearms were used during protests. Just last week, on Nov. 17, gunfire rang out when the guards of the pro-democracy movement clashed with royalists who were gathering close to parliament. Police did not intervene or try to separate the two sides.
Six people were shot, according to the emergency response unit Erawan Center. all of them on the side of the protesters.
The site of tonight’s rally was changed late Tuesday night by leaders of the movement. It was earlier announced that it would be held outside the offices of the Crown Property Bureau, which manages the fortune controlled by His Majesty the King.
The target was switched to the Siam Commercial Bank, a publicly held company in which King Vajiralongkorn is the biggest shareholder. The bank’s headquarters are in a different area of Bangkok, far from the district hosting the Crown Property Bureau and other royal and government offices.
WTF Thailand: Traffic chaos broke out in downtown Bangkok after commuters woke up to find cops blocking some roads with containers to deter a march to the Crown Property Bureau — even though the protest was already moved to another location. #Thailand #รถติด #25พฤศจิกาไปSCB pic.twitter.com/Z4n45LuVbw
— Khaosod English (@KhaosodEnglish) November 25, 2020
The protest movement announced that the change of venue was to avoid a confrontation with police and royalist counter demonstrators, which it feared could trigger a declaration of martial law or a coup by the military.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press