Blast hurts 3 at mall as protesters gather

Blast hurts 3 at mall as protesters gather

'Free Guards' group protest against arrests

At least three people were injured in an explosion outside a shopping mall on Phaya Thai Road yesterday afternoon.

The blast happened hours after members of the Free Guards group gathered at the Victory Monument to demand the release of two of their members who were arrested earlier.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal staff and local police attended the scene in front of Chamchuri Square in the afternoon.

A police source said investigations are under way to find out how the explosion was detonated and who was involved in the blast.

The three injured were later identified as Pol Cpl Chakrit Pinit, Pol L/C Atthapol Chanchomnak and a reporter from the Standard, a news website.

Pol Maj Gen Piya Tawichai, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, said after inspecting the bomb blast scene that four people -- two men and two women -- were arrested for violating the emergency decree and the Disease Control Act.

He did not go into details of the arrest. The four suspects are believed to have been detained for questioning at the Border Patrol Police Region 1 headquarters in Pathum Thani.

Pol Maj Gen Piya asked the demonstrators to leave the scene at 7.40pm.

Yesterday morning, activists clashed with police near the Victory Monument after they invited people to write on three 112m-long blank banners about how they feel about the government's performance and the lese majeste law.

Dozens of people who called themselves Free Guards staged the activity at the Phyathai island near the monument just before noon yesterday.

Several passers-by reportedly took up the offer and wrote on the banners.

But shortly after, police reached the scene, backed by a fully equipped mob-control team who encircled the outer area and moved in.

Among the messages to the government were: "Thai education needs to be improved", "Stop harassing people", "A failed government, a divisive society" and "Covid-19 is an excuse".

Police warned them the activity was in violation of the Covid-19 emergency decree, with penalties up to two years in prison and/or a fine of up to 40,000 baht. It also breached the Disease Control Act with one year in jail and a fine of up to 100,000 baht, they said.

Also yesterday afternoon, Bad Students, a group of pro-democracy students seeking education reform, held a demonstration to mark Teachers' Day, gathering in front of the Education Ministry on Ratchadamnoen Avenue.

Eleven social media account holders were charged for posting lese majeste content, according to the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES).

Nine of these accounts are on Facebook and other two on YouTube, Buddhipongse Punnakanta, minister of MDES said.

The MDES would lodge complaints with the Technology Crime Suppression Division's police against those posting content on the Facebook pages and YouTube channels.

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