Police hunting gunman in rubber protest shooting

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Police hunting gunman in rubber protest shooting

SONGKHLA, Jan 11 – The governor of Songkhla todaay ordered police to hunt down a gunman in a black sedan who fired several shots at a group of protesting rubber growers Tuesday evening, wounding eight people including one policeman.

Speaking to reporters after visiting three victims still in hospital, Songkhla Deputy Governor Surapol Panas-ampol said Governor Kritsada Boonraj instructed police to speed up hunting the gunman.

Initial investigation found that the car’s licence plate was fake. The gunman randomly shot at the protesters with 9mm handgun, the deputy governor said.

It was believed that there were at least two people in the black Toyota Vios sedan and after the shooting, the car was heading to Hat Yai district, a route which has many intersections along the way, Mr Surapol said.

The shooting took place after hundreds of rubber growers blocked the Hat Yai-Phatthalung stretch of the Asian Highway at Khu Ha intersection on Tuesday, demanding that the government help shore up rubber prices to Bt120 per kilogramme.

Eight people were injured from gunshot wounds but only three remain in the hospital including one policeman.

The rubber growers closed Phetkasem Road in Songkhla, the Southโ€™s major thoroughfare, calling for the government to guarantee the price of rubber at 120 baht per kilogramme after its price dropped to about 80-90 baht per kilogramme currently.

Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives Theera Wongsamut went to Songkhla Tuesday afternoon to meet the governor and negotiate with the protesters in Rattaphum district.

The minister said he will bring the issue to the Jan 17 cabinet meeting as the protesters proposed that the Rubber Estate Organisation intervene to offer price support for 200,000 tonnes of rubber.