Canadian shot in Bangkok recovering

A Canadian journalist who was shot while covering anti-government protests in Bangkok says he feels happy to be alive, a day after being struck by three bullets.

'Whoever helped me ... I can't thank them enough,' Nelson Rand tells CBC

Nelson Rand, a Canadian-born reporter with the France 24 television network, talks with CBC's Michel Cormier from a hospital in Bangkok on Saturday. ((CBC))
A Canadian journalist who was shot while covering anti-government protests in Bangkok says he doesn't blame either side in the conflict for his injuries.

Nelson Rand spoke to CBC News from his hospital bed in the Thai capital Saturday, a day after being struck by three bullets.

He was working for the France 24 television network when he was wounded as security forces cracked down on Red Shirt protesters.

Canadian Embassy closed

The Canadian Embassy in Bangkok has been temporarily closed to the public because of violence in the area, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says.

In case of emergency, Canadians needing assistance can call 001-800-220-0142 or 02-636-0540.

A state of emergency is in effect for Bangkok and the ministry is advising Canadians to avoid non-essential travel to the capital and other areas experiencing violence.

Canadians in Thailand are "strongly advised" to exercise a "high degree of caution" and avoid protest sites, military installations and prominent government buildings as violence could break out without warning, the ministry said.

Rand underwent four hours of surgery and is expected to recover, said Derek Thomson, a senior producer for the French network.

"I remember I got shot in my left wrist and I remember screaming," Rand said. "I don't know who fired the bullets and I don't care because I put myself in that situation and nobody should be blamed for that."

"I never thought it would happen to me. I'm just happy that it happened in downtown Bangkok and not in the jungles of Burma, otherwise I would have never made it back."

According to France 24, Rand was hit by bullets from a military assault rifle.

"What I remember is, I was filming with the army, I think. It's a bit confusing, so we can't really confirm this," the reporter told CBC. "I'm happy to be alive. I think I died for a little bit, but I can't confirm that," Rand said.

"The one main thing I want to say is whoever helped me get here, I want to thank them. I can't thank them enough," he said.

"I want to thank them infinity times," he said.

More journalists in the line of fire

At least 24 people have been killed and more than 194 have been injured — including a Thai newspaper photographer and Thai TV camera operator — during clashes Friday between security forces and anti-government protesters in the centre of Bangkok.

Thousands of Red Shirt protesters, mostly rural poor, have occupied one of the capital's most upscale areas since March 12. Fighting since then has left at least 37 people dead.

During two consecutive nights of clashes this week, security forces fired rubber bullets, tear gas and live ammunition, while protesters seized army equipment and set fire to a police bus. 

The Red Shirt demonstrators believe Abhisit's coalition government came to power illegitimately through manipulation of the courts and the backing of the powerful military. They are demanding he dissolve parliament immediately and call new elections.

With files from The Associated Press