Saturday, April 10, 2010

April 10 violent clashes in Bangkok between army and protesters

At least 10 people have died and over 600 are injured following violent clashes in the old town of Bangkok between red shirt protesters and government soldiers. Red shirt protesters -- mainly from the countryside -- had been camping out and marching in Bangkok for weeks. 

Thai army soldier,, A Soldier's Story   "An account of events around Ratchadamnoen and Khao San on the night of 10 April was given by a conscript in a phone call to his family. Soldiers have been told not to communicate with the media so this report must remain anonymous."
Approximately 50 draftees who had not finished basic training were ordered to put on riot gear at dusk on Saturday and were driven to the Ratchadamnoen area. We were not told in advance where we were going or what our objective was. We were equipped with rubber bullets but no gas masks...

At one point I was overcome with tear gas. Red shirts took off my helmet and I never saw it again. They washed the tear gas off my face. I and 2 friends were now isolated and did not know where to go. We tried staying put but it got too dangerous, so we started moving about and got lost. After 3 hours, we met a policeman in the middle of the night who told us where our unit was.

We got about 3 hours sleep and were transported back to camp the following afternoon. Of the 50 who had gone out, only about 20 remained. Some must be in hospital with injuries, and probably many just ran for their lives.

We have decided, among the draftees, that we will not go out on missions like this. The officers say this too. We have been told by the commanding officer that we will not be asked to go out again.
Michael Connors, Some observations on Red Rally at Rachaprasong district 9 & 10 April, and Brief Report 11/4/10
It has been commonly reported that the police are quite warm towards the red-shirts. This is obvious, although I observed from this rally that the border police were much friendlier than the riot police....

There are suggestions that some of the violence last night was military on military. Asked about the grenade that hit the military last night, I was informed by a UDD source that some 'watermelon soldiers' were deployed by rival commanders to attack the regiment was that was enforcing the crackdown. The source named the regiments and expected more conflict. This of course is unproven, but if true suggests that there may be more military action later. 
Nirmal Ghosh, Straights Times, Spiral of violence
...After the truce was called we made our way to Pan Fah and met with other colleagues, many of us stunned and exhausted from being out all day and often in the line of fire. Colleagues spoke of a firefight in which it seemed as if soldiers may have even been shooting at each other. Snipers were shooting from roofs. There had been so much chaos and confusion that the details and facts quickly became hazy.
Tony Jon, Thai-faq, Thai Army Opens Fire on Red Protesters, posted on 11. Apr, 2010.  (remarkable live-narrated video, plus text description of the event).
"The stand off took place at Phan Fa bridge and was the deadliest clash between the protesters and the army in the month long protest..." 
Andrew Marshall, Journotopia - "British freelance journalist reporting from Asia on big issues for TIME magazine and other publications worldwide."    Twitter feed:
  • Reds heaving huge arsenal of captured weapons onto stage. Guns, ammo piled up beside corpses. Cause. Effect.
  • One man's head rests on a pillow of skull fragments. Red shirt leader Nattawut prays at his feet.
  • On Pan Fah stage. Two corpses here, wrapped in bloody Thai flags.
  • French photographer tells me she saw troops open fire on medics trying to evacuate wounded. 
Nicholas Day, New Mandala, War at Khao San
Emma and me decided to head out to Rajaprasong to see what was happening...  Suddenly, the sound of guns being fired.  There was a large number of guns going off at the same time and each gun firing several bullets in quick succession...
Andrew Walker, New Mandala,  The scene at Phan Fa
I have just returned from the Pan Fa Bridge, after deciding to go and get a dose of reality on what I had been reading and writing about all day.... I arrived at the stage area just in time for the commencement of a very moving commemoration for the dead... [Newley, listed above, appears to have captured some photos of this.]

I talked to one English backpacker who looked a little too pale, and he told me that he had seen someone shot in the head in front of him and had captured it all on film.
Newley,,  Thai troops, red shirts clash: images from last night
Here are some images that I snapped last night.... For context on the military crackdown, see the descriptions I posted on Twitter in real-time.
Bethany Shondark on Twitter -  tweeting continually from a hotel under siege in Bangkok

Legal nomads on Twitter, photos

Noppatjak on Twitter, photos
Richard Barlow on Twitter, photos

Bangkok Pundit, AC, Live blog: The crackdown?

Readers of New Mandala blog, Crackdown (This is an open thread for information and informed
commentary on events in Bangkok today)

Mong Palatino, Global Voices, Thailand: Citizen videos of violent clash

Jotman, JOTMAN.COM, Military crackdown on protesters in Bangkok

Jotman, Jot around the world,  Violence in Bangkok: Is Khao San Road safe for tourists? - a blog summary of reports on events in tourist district

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