Thai police, protesters meet after blast

Nov. 30, 2008 at 3:25 PM

BANGKOK, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Bangkok police say they are meeting with anti-government protesters who are pleading for more protection after a grenade blast injured 50.

People's Alliance for Democracy protest leader Chamlong Srimuang, a former army general, met Sunday with Suchart Muenkaew, the Bangkok police chief, for 20 minutes after a grenade believed to have been hurled by counter-demonstrators injured scores of protesters occupying the offices of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, The New York Times reported.

Suchart told reporters the meeting with Chamlong helped "loosen the tension and mistrust between us" as Thai news Web sites carried photos of Chamlong sitting at a table with smiling senior officers. The meeting is reinforcing notions that PAD has powerful backers among the Thai elite who are preventing a crackdown on the demonstrators, the Times said.

PAD protesters, who are seeking the resignation of Somchai, are fearful of more violence from pro-government auxiliaries known as red shirts, who held a demonstration in central Bangkok Sunday, the newspaper said. PAD is occupying Bangkok's two major commercial airports, effectively choking off Thailand's tourism trade.

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