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Three killed in Thailand violence

BANGKOK -- An explosion in a busy Bangkok shopping district killed two people and injured 22 on Sunday, a day after a young girl died and dozens were hurt in an attack on a protest rally.

The Sunday afternoon blast occurred during an anti-government rally in an area popular with tourists for its street stalls, hotels and proximity to one of the biggest shopping malls in Thailand's capital.

Police could not immediately confirm the cause.

“A 40-year-old woman and a 12-year-old boy died and 22 people were injured,” the Erawan emergency center said in an update on its website. Two children are among the injured.

Blood was splattered on the pavement as soldiers and police sealed off the area, an AFP photographer saw.

Thailand has seen months of anti-government rallies aimed at ousting Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's embattled administration.

The protests have been marred by sporadic gun and grenade attacks — mainly in Bangkok — by unknown attackers.

On Saturday a five-year-old girl died and 30 were injured — including another girl — when gunmen sprayed bullets at a anti-government rally in the Khao Saming district of Trat province, 300 kilometers east of the capital.

Thailand has been bitterly split since a military coup ousted Yingluck's brother Thaksin Shinawatra as prime minister in 2006.

The current unrest is the worst since Thaksin-allied Red Shirt protests against a Democrat-led government in 2010 sparked clashes and a bloody military crackdown that left more than 90 people dead.

In recent months 19 people have died and hundreds more have been injured, fuelling fears of a spiral of unrest.

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Thai soldiers inspect the site of a bomb blast near an anti-government rally in Bangkok on Sunday, Feb. 23. At least sixteen people were injured in a blast in a popular Bangkok shopping district on Sunday, health officials said, further amplifying tensions a day after gunmen opened fire on an anti-government rally in eastern Thailand, killing a five-year-old girl. (AFP)

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