A bomb attack wounded dozens of people at an opposition protest march in Thailand’s capital on Friday, sending tensions soaring following weeks of mass rallies aimed at overthrowing the government.
“The bomb went off about 30m from popular opposition figure Suthep and then his bodyguards escorted him back to a rally stage,” spokesman Akanat Promphan told AFP news agency.
The kingdom has been periodically rocked by political bloodshed since former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was overthrown by royalist generals in a coup seven years ago.
His sister, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, has faced more than two months of street demonstrations aimed at forcing her government from office and installing an unelected “people’s council”.
The authorities and the demonstrators both blamed each other for the blast, which was apparently caused by a grenade-type device thrown from a nearby building.
The protesters have been demonstrating in Bangkok since Monday, blocking key intersections in what they are calling a shutdown of the city.
They say they will remain in place until the government resigns.
On Wednesday Ms Yingluck offered to discuss postponing the polls, but Mr Suthep boycotted the meeting.
On Thursday, the country’s anti-corruption commission said it was investigating Ms Yingluck in connection with a controversial government rice subsidy scheme.
The scheme guarantees Thai rice farmers – key supporters of Ms Yingluck’s government – a much higher price than on the global market, but critics say it is too expensive and vulnerable to corruption.