Thai politics Thailand

Reuters on Thai troops, red shirt clashes, and civilian deaths

A Reuters story running today: “Exclusive: Probe reveals Thai troops’ role in civilian deaths”:

The Thai military played a larger role in the killing of civilians during political unrest in Bangkok this year than officials have acknowledged, leaked state documents seen by Reuters show.

A preliminary state probe into political violence in April and May concluded Thai special forces positioned on an elevated railway track fired into the grounds of a Buddhist temple where several thousand protesters had taken refuge on May 19.

Three of six people shot dead at the temple were likely killed by troops, the investigation found, directly contradicting statements by the Thai military, which has denied soldiers were responsible for the killings at the temple.


Soldiers quoted in the DSI report said they fired warning shots toward the temple and came under fire from black-clad gunmen from below and by another gunman in the temple. They said they were providing cover fire for troops on the ground, who had requested backup.


The findings seen by Reuters were contained in two DSI reports — one on the temple shootings and another on the April 10 death of Reuters cameraman Hiro Muramoto.

Muramoto, a 43-year-old Japanese national based in Tokyo, was killed by a high-velocity bullet wound to the chest while covering protests in Bangkok’s old quarter.

The report quoted a witness who said Muramoto collapsed as gunfire flashed from the direction of soldiers. Thailand’s government has not yet publicly released the report into his death despite intense diplomatic pressure from Japan.

(Emphasis mine.)

The Globe and Mail‘s Mark MacKinnon was at the temple (along with The Independent‘s Andrew Buncombe) that night and tweeted the following in response to the Reuters story today:

Thai report says soldiers shot at from inside temple. I saw fireworks launched towards soldiers from just outside Wat, no gunmen inside.

It was dark, I couldn’t see everything, but I walked and ran through all parts of temple several times. I saw slingshots, clubs, no guns.

Thai report revealing soldiers’ roles in Wat Pathum shootings an “official secret” – authorities refuse to confirm its authenticity…

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