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15, including journalist, killed in Bangkok clashes

Fifteen people, including a journalist, were killed and 678 injured in clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in Thailand's capital.

world Updated: Apr 11, 2010 09:31 IST

Fifteen people, including a journalist, were killed and 678 injured in clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in Thailand's capital.

As many as 15 people died and 678 others were injured in recent clashes. Among the victims included four soldiers, and the rest are civilians, said Erawan, Bangkok Emergency Medical Service Centre.

The Nation TV quoted the Central Hospital as saying that among the deaths in that hospital are some "red-shirts" protesters and a Japanese reporter who worked for Reuters.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in a televised speech Saturday night expressed sorrow for the deaths in the clashes and promised to conduct an independent probe into the incidents, Xinhua reported.

The clashes occurred Saturday afternoon and evening as the government tried to retake Ratchaprasong Intersection and Phan Fah Bridge, two major rally sites for the anti-government "red-shirts", who has been staging demonstrations since March 12.

The situation seemed getting out of control as the "red-shirts" protesters and security forces started to exchange fire and throw grenades at Khokwua intersection, 700m away from Phan Fah Bridge.

Shortly after the gunshots was heard, the Government House was attacked by two grenades.

The confrontation between "red-shirts" and the security forces Saturday evening in Bangkok ceased temporarily as the army retreated while the "red-shirts" had retreated to their rally sites.

Prime Minister's Secretary-General Korbsak Sabhavasu was appointed to negotiate with "red-shirts" leaders for a truce, and the army had already withdrawn from the confrontation site, army's spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said Saturday in a live TV address.

Abhisit said the government and himself will try to further ease the tensions by all means to keep the rule of law and justice.

The prime minister said "the government will ask experts to examine independently how the deaths occurred in order to prove the truth to the public."

Abhisit said the security forces used real bullets in the clashes for two reasons: shooting into sky as deterrence and for security staff to protect themselves.

"By this time each side should not blame the other for the deaths that have occurred, in order to maintain the improved sentiment after the earlier clashes," he said.

The government had halted its operations of reclaiming the red shirts-occupied areas, said the premier.

Before the clashes, acting government spokesman Panithan Wattanayagorn told Nation Channel Saturday that the government is attempting to take back the occupied places by the "red-shirts".

Prime Minister Abhisit declared a state of emergency Wednesday afternoon after the Parliament House were temporarily stormed by the protesters.

The "red-shirts" have been staging a rolling rally in the capital city since March 12 in an effort to pressure Abhisit to dissolve the parliament and hold a snap election.