(8 January) Thai police once again insist that they had not employed any lethal weapons against PCAD protesters at the clash at Thai-Japan Stadium on 26 December 2013.
One policeman and one anti-government protester were shot dead, and scores of others injured, following the clashes, in which People′s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State attempt to storm the election registration venue held inside the Stadium.
There are reports of numerous gunshot injuries on both sides, and PCAD has accused the police of using live ammunition on the protesters, but the police have repeatedly rejected this accusation.
Pol.Lt.Col. Sarayuth Aroonchai, Chief of the Crowd Control Police, led members of the press to tour the police headquarters yesterday and demonstrated police weaponry reportedly used in the 26 December clashes.
The tour was meant to show how police had handled the protesters on that day, Pol.Lt. Col. Sarayuth said.
Police officers confront the the demonstrators by wearing protection suit, he said, adding that only two officers per police unit are responsible for the firing of tear gas and rubber bullets.
The use of rubber bullets was aimed to warn the protesters not to approach the police defence position, Pol.Lt.Col. Sarayuth told reporters. Furthermore, police did not aim these weapons directly at the bodies of the protesters, and they were fired only in open environment, according to Pol.Lt.Col. Sarayuth.
He also told reporters that tear gas used by police can be divided into two types; one for shooting, with approximately 50-150 metres range, and the other for throwing, with a range of no more than 25 metres, which operates in both smoke and powder forms.
Meanwhile, the liquid tear gas the police sprayed on the protesters contains food-dyeing colour substance, which is harmless to humans, according to Pol.Lt.Col. Sarayuth.
The riot police chief stressed that tear gas launchers cannot be loaded with M79 grenades as claimed by some protesters, since the calibre size of both weapons are different.
Reporters were later invited to observe the demonstration of tear gas and rubber bullet firing.
Additionally, Pol.Lt.Col. Sarayuth reiterated that black-uniformed individuals seen on top of the Ministry of Labour building during the 26 December clashes indeed belong to the Crowd Control Police. "All ten of them were instructed to detach their insignia, which makes them look like ?black-shirt? men," Pol.Lt.Col. Sarayuth said.
PCAD has accused the police of employing the shadowy ?black-shirt? militants to attack the protesters. Pol.Lt.Col. Sarayuth denied the allegation, and insisted that police officers stationed above the Ministry of Labour possessed no lethal weaponry.
Pol.Col. Kamtorn Uicharoen, chief of EOD unit, also told reporters that EOD police have combed the area around Thai-Japan Stadium after the clashes were resolved, and found many home-made explosive devices, such as large firecrackers, slingshots, ping-pong bombs, and booby traps filled with nails.
"These weapons can cause fatal harm," Pol.Col. Kamthorn said.
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