Thai army denies involvement in temple killings

Bangkok (ANTARA News/AFP) - Thailand`s army on Thursday denied any involvement in the killing of nine people at a Buddhist temple where thousands of protesters had sought shelter during an army crackdown on their rally.

The army announced it would launch an investigation into the deaths, which it said happened before security forces reached the temple in response to calls for help for people inside.

"The incident occurred at 5 pm to 6 pm (1000 to 1100 GMT). At that time the security officials had not yet entered Pathum Wanaram temple," said army spokesman Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd.

"If security officials want to kill people the death toll could be much higher," he said, adding that the government was "ready to prove itself in this case."

On Thursday police escorted thousands of devastated protesters out of the temple, where they had cowered overnight.

The bodies of six of the victims were laid in the shade outside the pagoda under a portrait of Thailand`s revered king. Mats covering them were briefly removed to show the bullet wounds they had sustained, mostly to the abdomen. (*)

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