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Shots fired during clash on eve of Thai polls

BANGKOK, Feb 1: Violence broke out in the Thai capital on the eve of disputed snap polls after shots were fired during a clash between pro-Government supporters and opposition activists determined to scuttle the election.

Several shots and a minor explosion were heard as the clash broke out despite tight security measures put in place for Sunday’s vote, including the deployment of over 2,00,000 security personnel.

At least three persons were injured in the firing, while others in the Lak Si area ran for shelter in a nearby mall, Bangkok Post reported.

Protesters marched in Bangkok and laid siege to a building where ballots were stored in a final bid to disrupt the polls and stop beleaguered premier Yingluck Shinawatra from returning to power.

Police and army personnel will provide security at more than 93,000 polling stations nationwide. A total of 49 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise.

Twenty-seven companies of soldiers will assist police in ensuring that people who want to vote can do so, said Chalerm Yubamrung, the director of the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO).

The CMPO would use its authority under an emergency decree to ensure smooth polling, Chalerm, also the caretaker Labour Minister, said referring to the 60-day emergency imposed last week in Bangkok and nearby areas to tackle months of unrest.

Unfazed by threats from political rivals to block the vote, Yingluck today rebutted the opposition Democrat Party’s claim that the election was “unconstitutional”.

“What does unconstitutional mean? The 2007 charter, particularly the section on election regulations, was altered by the Democrat-led government, not this administration,” she said.

Yingluck asked people to trust the Election Commission (EC), which is responsible for free and fair polls.

Protesters have vowed to disrupt voting and block roads leading to polling stations tomorrow, raising doubts about the legitimacy of the snap polls called by Yingluck in a bid to end nearly three months of street rallies, sometimes violent.

Protesters have blockaded key buildings and major intersections in Bangkok for weeks to press their demand for Yingluck to make way for an unelected “People’s Council” to carry out reforms aimed at curbing the political dominance of the Shinawatra clan. (AGENCIES)


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