Bangkok violence hits as govt pushes peace plan

Two Thai policemen have been killed in attacks near anti-government protests, raising tensions.

Bangkok: Two Thai policemen have been killed in attacks near anti-government protests, raising tensions on Saturday as the government struggles to negotiate a peace "roadmap" to end a crippling political crisis.

Grenade blasts and a drive-by shooting targeted security forces facing off against "Red Shirts" protesters at their massive rally encampment in Bangkok`s main shopping district.

It was the latest outbreak of violence in a two-month confrontation that has also triggered deadly clashes and other explosions, which have left another 27 dead and nearly 1,000 injured.

"Two policemen have been killed in these incidents, I think that someone doesn`t want the protests to end," said police operations centre spokesman Major General Prawut Thavornsiri.

The grenades hit in the early hours of the morning at a security checkpoint in front of a city park that forms the edge of the heavy fortified protest camp, which is surrounded by makeshift barricades.

"Three M-79 grenades were fired at a security checkpoint manned by police and soldiers," said Prawut.

A hospital official said a 35-year-old policeman died during surgery. The Bangkok Emergency Medical Service said five police and three soldiers were wounded in the blasts.

Earlier, one policeman was killed and four others -- two police and two civilians -- were injured when a man opened fire in the nearby Silom financial district, which is under heavy guard to prevent the protests spilling over.

"A man on a motorbike fired at police who were on patrol," said police spokesman Lieutenant General Pongsapat Pongcharoen.

The latest attacks were near the site of a grenade blast on April 22 that killed a 26-year-old Thai woman and injured scores of other people, including foreigners.

Reds leaders on Saturday denied any involvement in the attacks and called on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to withdraw the security forces, stationed in the Silom financial district, under a proposed reconciliation plan.

Bureau Report

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