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Three journalists injured in Bangkok clashes

(IPI/IFEX) - Vienna, 14 May 2010 - Three journalists have been injured in clashes between government forces and protesters in Bangkok, Thailand.

The injured journalists - Nelson Rand, a Canadian working for broadcaster France 24; a local journalist working for Thai newspaper Matichon and a cameraman working for Thai broadcaster Voice TV - were injured in separate outbreaks of violence in the Thai capital today, according to media reports. Rand was reportedly shot thrice, in the leg, abdomen and wrist, and is reported to be in "serious condition."

Thai news outlet The Nation reports that protesters briefly surrounded a mobile van belonging to broadcaster Channel 3, alleging that the station's broadcasts were biased against the protestors, called "Red Shirts." The protesters dispersed after a discussion with the news staff and no one was hurt in the incident.

Journalists on the micro-blogging site Twitter, which has emerged as one of the most current sources of information on the protests, warned of attempts being made to steal cameras from photographers.

On Thursday, Thomas Fuller, a reporter for the International Herald Tribune, described how opposition figure Maj. Gen. Khattiya Sawasdipol was shot in the head as Fuller was interviewing him. Fuller told CNN that he was standing only a few feet away from Sawasdipol when he was shot. Sawasdipol was transported to hospital and is in grave condition.

"Journalists covering the clashes in Thailand at the moment are extremely vulnerable to danger," said IPI Director David Dadge. "We ask soldiers and protestors to respect the independence of the media and to ensure that they do not become targets for violence in this volatile environment."

Earlier this week, IPI reported that over a month after Reuters cameraman Hiro Muramoto was killed in clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in Thailand's capital, Bangkok, officials have yet to identify his killers.

Citing the current political tension in Thailand, editor of The Nation, Tulsathit Taptim, suggested at the time that the government may have chosen to not yet reveal the results of any murder investigation to avoid inciting further violence and, possibly, because the information may be inconvenient or embarrassing for the government.

"It is very difficult for any independent investigation to be conducted under these circumstances," Taptim said. "Any outcome would be politicised and used by one side or the other."

The deepening political crisis in the country has resulted in at least four deaths today, according to media sources, and over 30 people are said to have died in the clashes between the Red Shirts and government soldiers.

The wave of protests against the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva began on 12 March when Red Shirt protesters took to the streets. Three days later, demonstrators splashed blood under the gates of Government House in a sign of protest against the current leadership.

The government responded by blocking several websites and an opposition broadcaster People TV.

The Red Shirts do not recognise Abhisit Vejjajiva's leadership, charging that the prime minister came to power illegitimately following the 2006 coup against former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

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