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Thailand: Protest blockade ends in violence

The attempt of the Thailand military to blockade the Red Shirt protest camp in Bangkok ended in violence with 16 people dead and hundreds injured. Liveblog reports are available through Jotman, GJBKK Blog, Bangkok Pundit, Political Prisoners in Thailand. Journalists like Dan Rivers, Andrew Marshall, and Terry Fredrickson are also providing situation updates in Bangkok through twitter.

The Thai Report has provided a timeline of what happened in Bangkok in the past 24 hours

08:45 – Seh Daeng (Red Shirt general) still alive, in critical condition…
08:50 – Taxis block Wittiyu intersection…
09:30 – Homemade rockets fired at helicopter…
12:00 – Red shirts descend on Ubon in Northeast province…
12:15 – Teargas used on protesters…
12:30 – Large numbers of troops moving in…
12:30 – Clashes intensify, bus burns…
13:10 – Gunfire around Lumpini…
15:00 – Thaksin (former Prime Minister) calls for ceasefire…
15:00 – Troops clash with protesters using live bullets…
15:30 – Foreign journalist shot…
16:15 – Volleys of gunfire…
17:00 – Explosions and heavy gunfire…
18:00 – Car with gas canister bomb explodes…
18:45 – M79 grenades at BTS Saladaeng…
18:45 – Protester shot dead on Rama IV…
19:30 – Sniper attack on red shirt stage…
20:45 – Government defends itself on national TV…
20:45 – Operations will continue until protesters gone…
21:30 – “I can confirm that the army was the only one firing gunshots”…
21:30 – More gunshots and explosion…
00:00 – Molotovs light up Bangkok night…
00:45 – Teenager shot for entering restricted road…
07:30 – UN Chief calls for end to violence…
08:15 – Violence escalating at Saladaeng…
08:30 – Gunfire begins again…
08:30 – 4 dead bodies disappear…
09:00 – Grenade explosion at Lumpini…
09:15 – First casualty this morning…
10:00 – Red leaders call for reinforcements…

Government spokespersons conducted a press conference to defend the actions of the military. Via Bangkok Pundit, the government claimed that…

Protests are illegal so authorities are able to act. Govt has tried to negotiate, but reds refused to continue. The reconciliation has failed because of Thaksin's interference.

As there are some protesters using weapons, the situation has resulted in people dying, injuries, and damage. We have blockaded protest. We have not yet entered the protest area. The troops do not intend to move in for crackdown, but just to increase pressure so rally will end. However, the protesters have used weapons. Troops have to protect themselves. Troops did not use weapons initially, but after coming under attack, they have had to. Rules on use of weapons have been set Rules of engagement we have set are clear, only in air, at terrorists and in self-defense. Operations will continue.

The Red Shirts have been protesting in the streets for the two months already. They are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva whom they accuse of being illegitimate and undemocratic. They also want the Prime Minister to dissolve the parliament and call for new elections. There were negotiations to settle the protest peacefully but they bogged down a few days ago.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a Red Shirt supporter, reports that clashes are also occurring in the provinces

Sporadic clashes are occurring in Bangkok and the provinces. The Government is desperately trying to cling to power by murdering pro-democracy demonstrators. Splits are appearing in the security forces with reports of some police or army units returning fire with the advancing troops. This is indeed a civil war situation and the Government cannot hope to control the situation.

Red Shirts are determined to stand firm. Millions of people are extremely angry with the Government, the military and the Monarchy.

New Mandala writes about the prospect of the Red Shirt protest

It occurs to us that one issue which is probably crucial to the immediate outcome of this dangerous new phase is the capacity and willingness of the Reds to reinforce their numbers at the main encampment or to spread protests to other strategic sites in Bangkok, or throughout the country. Of course, they may not get such a chance. Word coming from central Bangkok right now is that more shooting and explosions can be heard.

Twitter comments about the fresh wave of violence which erupted in Bangkok

thai101 The army's ‘containment’ operation has spread the fighting all over central Bangkok now. Mind bogglin
jonrussell RT @terryfrd: Jatuporn: Thanks heroes who are risking lives coming to help them. Very close to civil war now. Doesn't know how it end.
newley At just before 8 a.m. here in Bangkok, I'm not hearing any explosions or sirens. But I heard ambulances as late as 3 a.m. #Thailand
ohohcita RT @itzco: Rights 2 protest ends in other ppl right to live & work, army is the society tool 2 restore order. blame only urselves #redshirts
WizardofWindsor 2.the #redshirts have fought only with their bare hands and helmets, the govt is the one using M79s
thesongdej RT @bkkbase: In a normal country isn't this when the leader appears on TV and appeals for calm and reconcilliation? #redshirts
Justin_Dupre More fighting, more traffic, more deaths in BKK. Unfortunate it had to come to this, but we all saw it coming, didn't we? #redshirts

For more background about the Red Shirt protest, read also

Thailand: Citizen videos of violent clash
Thailand: Bloggers document violent clashes
Thailand: “Bloody” Tuesday?

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