02/24/2014, 00.00
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Bangkok: grenade explodes among anti-government protesters, PM leaves capital

The explosion targeted a group of people, killing two on the spot. A child died this morning from injuries sustained to the head. The Army chief rules out military intervention, but calls for calm. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra leaves government officies. Appeal by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Bangkok ( AsiaNews / Agencies) - The death toll from an explosion that targeted a group of anti-government protesters yesterday has risen to three with at least 22 injured, including a nine year old boy admitted to an care unit intensive . Meanwhile, the Thai prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra , the main target of the opposition protests that have congested Bangkok for months, has left the capital taking refuge in an unknown location more than 100 km distant. Sources report that the executive "is carrying out its tasks" and no one knows how many days she will remain away. It has been almost a week since her last public appearance.  February 27 she is due to appear before magistrates to answer charges of corruption, but there is no official confirmation of her presence in the courtroom.

Thailand's political crisis turned violent at the weekend, when a grenade explosion instantly killed a woman and a child of four years. This morning the doctors reported the death the child's sister, she was also hit by debris and died from the serious injuries to the head.

Earlier, gunmen opened fire on a crowd of other "Yellow Shirts" ( he anti-government protesters ) in the east of Thailand, killing a five year old girl . An act strongly condemned by the Prime Minister who speaks of "terrorist acts perpetrated with political aims".

According to sources in the Medical Department of Bangkok, the death toll since the crisis began is 19 dead and 717 wounded. The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki -moon has called for an immediate end to the bloodshed and urged the authorities to punish those responsible. "There is no place for violence", the UN chief said in a statement, urging a "resolution of differences at a political level".

This morning, the Thai army chief - the real engine of power in the nation - confirmed that he does not want to intervene in the dispute and that there will be a military coup to resolve the political stalemate . General Prayuth Chan-ocha , Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces , adds that soldiers will be deployed to defend the civilian population. "Someone has a duty to intervene - he added - but this does not mean that the soldiers can do it outside of a framework of legality".

The anti -government protests - a mix of members of the middle class, royalists and the inhabitants of the south - are the biggest since 2010, when the kingdom was shaken by a series of riots that ended in bloodshed and death 90 civilians. The protesters want the resignation of the government led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra , accused of being a "puppet" in the hands of her brother Thaksin , the billionaire and former prime minister in exile to escape a two-year prison sentence. He is disliked by many exponents close to the monarchy, who fear he wants to undermine the institutional system of the country at a particularly fragile time for the poor health the 86 year old King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

February 2, elections were held - boycotted by the opposition Democratic Party - which sanctioned the victory of Shinawatra's Pheu Thai Party, but the vote is not yet final; some provinces of the south still have to vote , an area seen as a democratic stronghold.


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Bangkok "red shirts" raid on a hospital, patients evacuated
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