UK & World News

  • 26 December 2013, 13:10

Thailand: Policeman Killed In Election Protest

A Thai police officer has been killed in clashes as anti-government protesters in Bangkok attempt to halt preparations for upcoming elections.

Police said the officer died after being airlifted to a hospital with gunshot wounds.

"He was shot in his chest and brought to hospital by helicopter," said Jongjet Aoajenpong, director of the Police General Hospital.

"A team of doctors tried to resuscitate him for more than half an hour."

Protesters clashed with police outside a sports stadium where election candidates were drawing lots for their positions on the ballot ahead of general elections scheduled for February 2.

Security authorities fired rubber bullets and tear gas toward protesters during the clashes, while protesters threw rocks and glass bottles at riot police guarding the stadium and the nearby Ministry of Labour building.

Nearly 100 people, including 25 police officers, were injured in the clashes.

Despite the violence, the protesters failed to halt the proceedings inside the stadium, where representatives from 27 parties gathered.

It was the first violent incident in nearly two weeks of daily protests on the streets of Bangkok.

Thailand's election commission has now urged the government to postpone the elections.

"We cannot organise free and fair elections under the constitution in the current circumstances," said commission member Prawit Rattanapien, who along with other vote officials had to be evacuated from the stadium by helicopter.

Shortly afterwards, the government said the polls would go ahead as scheduled on February 2.

The protesters have been demanding that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra step down since mid-October.

The unrest began after her government tried to introduce an amnesty law that would have allowed MsYingluck's brother and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled in a military coup in 2006, to return to the country as a free man.

The protesters believe the prime minister is being controlled by her exiled brother.

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