PDRC protester shot, policeman beaten

PDRC protester shot, policeman beaten

Two people were injured in protest violence opposite the Army Club yesterday afternoon during a meeting between caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Election Commission chairman Supachai Somcharoen.

Ms Yingluck and Mr Supachai were there to discuss the possibility of postponing Sunday's general election, when violence erupted about 2.30pm.

A protester was shot in the abdomen as supporters of the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) gathered on the inbound lane of Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, opposite the Army Club.

The alleged gunman was apprehended by a group of protesters, who then proceeded to beat the suspect. Sutthisan police chief Pol Col Samroeng Suanthong and his investigators rushed to collect evidence at the crime scene and said police had not determined whether the alleged gunman was a police officer in disguise.

But later Pol Maj Gen Adul Narongsak, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, held a press conference and said the injured man beaten by protesters was a police officer who had been assigned to take photos of the protest.

The injured protester, Putthichai Wipa, was taken to Ramathibodi Hospital, while the alleged gunman, identified as Pol Snr Sgt Maj Kongpetch Petchkanha, a police investigator from Metropolitan Police Division 2, was taken to Rajavithi Hospital.

Ramathibodi Hospital director Surasak Leelaudomlipi said Mr Putthichai had been shot in the middle of his abdomen and the bullet exited via his back.

Ratchavithi Hospital director Udom Chaowarin, meanwhile, said Pol Snr Sgt Maj Kongpetch was in a stable condition and his life was not in danger.

Witness Weerasak Sunthornjaman, 58, said the protesters surrounded Pol Snr Sgt Maj Kongpetch as they suspected he was not a PDRC supporter.

They did not know he was a police officer as he was wearing an orange motorcycle taxi driver's vest, Mr Weerasak said. The witness said Pol Snr Sgt Maj Kongpetch opened fire at the protesters as they surrounded him and smashed a brick on his head.

"After he shot one of the protesters, he ran across the inbound lane of Vibhavadi Rangsit Road to escape," Mr Weerasak said.

"I saw him fall over near the foot of the flyover in front of a Nissan car showroom opposite the Army Club, where he was caught and beaten by the angry protesters."

Another witness, Netnapa Lertlitsomboon, 22, was standing on the flyover when the protesters caught up with Pol Snr Sgt Maj Kongpetch.

She said he saw one protester hit him on the head with a brick.

Pol Maj Gen Adul said his subordinate had opened fire on the group of protesters who surrounded him and had tried to search him but the police officer refused to let them. He said he had only acted in self defence.

However, BlueSky television channel director Thakerng Somsap claimed that two men had actually been involved in the shooting but the other managed to escape.

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