- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 22, 2010

BANGKOK | At least five grenades exploded Thursday in the center of Bangkok near a massive encampment of anti-government protesters, killing one person and wounding at least 50, sending panicked people running through the streets and fleeing an elevated train station.

The area of the explosions has been the site of a tense standoff between Red Shirt protesters, who are demanding Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva resign, and armed troops over the past several days.

More recently, a rival group of protesters has rallied in the area, occasionally hurling stones and insults at the Red Shirts, creating a volatile mix. Several of the blasts were near where the rivals have gathered, under the elevated tracks of a Skytrain station.

Army spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd said five M-79 grenades were fired from grenade launchers. Among them were three that fell through the roof of the Saladaeng Skytrain station, along Silom Road, the center of Bangkok’s business district. A fourth exploded on the pavement near the five-star Dusit Thani Hotel and the fifth near a bank, he said.

TV stations reported several more blasts. Previously, explosions at the site have been from fireworks.

The government’s Erawan emergency center said the blasts killed one person, identified as a Thai male, and wounded at least 50.

The TPBS television network reported three foreigners were among the wounded. Associated Press reporters saw at least four people injured after four blasts, two with serious wounds who were not moving.

The streets were full of people tending to the wounded and carrying away casualties.

The Red Shirts, who believe Mr. Abhisit came to power illegitimately and are pushing for him to call elections immediately, have rallied in the streets for several weeks. On Thursday, the army warned that time was running out for the protesters to clear the streets, warning they would crack down soon.

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