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Protesters killed by Thai soldiers

Six unarmed people killed at a Buddhist temple during a military crackdown on anti-government protesters in Thailand's capital three years ago were hit by bullets fired by Thai soldiers, an inquest has found.

The inquest at Bangkok South Criminal Court said four men and one woman, mostly "Red Shirt" protesters who took refuge in the Pathum Wanaram temple near the demonstration site, were killed by high-velocity bullets from the Thai army soldiers who were on the city's elevated railway tracks, while another man was shot by soldiers from the ground.

The findings are a stark reminder of a bloody battle between the demonstrators and the government under then-prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. The Red Shirts, consisting mostly of supporters of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra and anti-establishment protesters, called for the dissolution of parliament and fresh elections.

The findings come at a time of renewed political tension, as protest groups gathered in Bangkok this week to oppose a controversial Bill which would grant amnesty to protesters who were involved in political demonstrations since the 2006 military coup that ousted Thaksin for alleged corruption and disrespect to the monarchy.

Some 90 people were killed over several weeks in 2010 when the demonstrators occupied central Bangkok for nine weeks before they dispersed due to the deadly army crackdown.

The inquest dismissed claims by a soldier that there was an unidentified armed group near the temple when the shootings happened, saying there was not enough evidence. It also said the six people were not using any weapons when they were killed.

Mr Abhisit's government approved the use of live ammunition under limited conditions and deployed marksmen and snipers during the demonstration.

Nattapat Akkahad, a younger brother of killed volunteer nurse Kamonkade Akkahad, said he was happy about the ruling and called for the army personnel responsible to be prosecuted.

"I'm so glad that I don't know what to say. This just confirms our stance that no amnesty should be granted to state's security officers who acted beyond what was necessary," he said. "The soldiers must be held accountable."

Relatives of the others said they were content with the detailed findings and also called for prosecution of those responsible.

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