The Crackdown Has Begun UPDATE 21 killed, 858 injured

After a whole month of protests, it appears that the government is cracking down on the red shirts.

The situation is currently very hard to overlook from here with many unconfirmed and unvetted information coming in. Nearly all TV channels in Thailand are in news blackout mode as they are airing the usual fluffy nonsense instead of live pictures from the scene.

So far, no serious injuries or casualties has been reported. There are several hot spots around Bangkok. The army has been using rubber bullets and also fired warning shots in the air. BTS Skytrain has suspended it’s service.

To keep up with latest, Bangkok Pundit has a live blog, New Mandala has an open thread, Nick Koleszar of media140 has posted links to livestreams of Thai TV news.

I will try to update live on Twitter (@Saksith) as the events are unfolding.

UPDATE (Sunday, 2.00 PM CEST):

The Nation has reported that the number of deaths and injured has risen to 21 and 858 respectively.

UPDATE 7 (10.30 PM CEST): My last update for today. Stay safe out there!

Cover of The Nation, April 11, 2010

Video by Associated Press

Video by Al Jazeera English

The Nation has the most recent numbers of deaths and injured. Be also sure to read the whole article for details.

Eleven people were reported to have died and 678 injured from clashes between security forces and red-shirt demonstrators in different parts of the capital, National Emergency Centre’s director Phetpong Kamchornkijakarn said late last night.

He said of the casualties, nine were civilians and two were soldiers. Of the civilians killed, eight were red-shirt protesters, while the ninth was a Japanese man who worked as a photographer for Thomson-Reuters.

11 dead, 678 injured in Bangkok clashes“, The Nation, April 11, 2010

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva last night expressed sorrow for the deaths following clashes between soldiers and protesters.

In his speech broadcast at 11.25 pm, Abhisit said he and his government still have the duty to ease the situation and restore peace in the country. “I promise the government will carry out [the task] with transparency, fairly and in a way that benefits the country and the people,” he said. (…)

He said there must be independent investigation to be conducted by experts to determine the causes of deaths. “Both sides should not accuse each other of causing the losses.”

PM mourns loss of lives“, The Nation, April 11, 2010

UPDATE  6 (5.30 PM CEST):

Four civilians and four soldiers were killed in clashes between the army and red shirt protesters, the Bangkok deputy governor said on Saturday without giving details.

Deputy governor of Bangkok Malinee Sukavrejworakit also said 242 people were wounded.

Thai “red shirt” clashes kill eight – Bangkok governor“, Reuters, April 10, 2010

UPDATE 5 (4.40 PM CEST):

The first casualties are being reported on both sides. Emergency medical services 5 are being reportedly killed and 300 injured The red shirts at the Rajprasong stage have shown bodies wrapped in Thai flag.

Additionally the red shirt leaders have reported that a Japanese Reuters reporter named Huroyuki Muramoto has been killed with a shot wound to the stomach.

Both army and red shirts have retreated from the Kok Wua intersection, as it is reported secretary-general Korbsak Sabhavasu will try to contact the red shirt leaders for negotiating talks.

UPDATE 4 (3.55 PM CEST):

The situation at Kok Wua intersection near Khao San Road is seriously deteriorating by the minute as we speak. TV pictures show massive riots, smoke and fire. Injuries on both sides are being reported.

UPDATE 3 (3.05 PM CEST):

Al Jazeera English reports that clashes have reignited as red shirts have hurled petrol bombs at police and military forces. Other reports suggest that it is at Kok Woa intersection. Also, the area near the famous Khao San Road was jammed packed with red shirts. Right now the police has blocked off Khao San Road as gunshots were heard around the area.

The large bulk of the red shirt protest are still at Rajaprasong Intersection. A Twitterer has captured a long line of red shirts queuing up for free food.

Meanwhile, the name of the injured foreign journalist is Vinai Dithajon, a photographer for ONASIA. AP Photographer Thanyarat Doksone (@babyfishie on Twitter) has talked to him and “He’s safe. The ‘bullet’ has been removed from his calf.” Reports are conflicting wether the bullet is real one or ‘just’ a rubber bullet.

UPDATE 2 (2.10 PM CEST):

The situation appears to cool down at the moment as the security forces have backed off from the Ploen Chit area.

There were reports of helicopters throwing tear gas into the crowd of protestors around the area at Phan Fah and Rajadamnoen Road (see eyewitness picture from earlier below).

At least 135 people, including dozens of soldiers and police, were wounded in the violence near the Phan Fah bridge and Rajdumnoen Road, a red shirt base near government buildings and the regional U.N. headquarters.

(…) At least five people suffered gunshot wounds near Phan Fah bridge, including a freelance photographer shot in the stomach, hospital officials said. The injuries were believed to be from rubber bullets.

Thai troops open fire, move in on “red shirts”“, Reuters, April 10, 2010

About 600 Thai “red shirt” protesters broke into a local government office in the northeast city of Udon Thani, angry at a crackdown on their movement in the capital, local television said.

Earlier, hundreds of red shirts forced their way into the governor’s office compound in the northern city of Chiang Mai.

In Udon Thani, the protesters broke through the gates, cut barbed wire, removed barricades and entered the compound of the town hall, local television said.

The red shirts had vowed that they would besiege governors’ offices in the provinces if there was a crackdown on their one-month-old protest in the capital for fresh elections. (…)

Thai red shirts protest in second province“, Reuters, April 10, 2010

UPDATE 1 (12.15 PM CEST):

Government spokesman Panitan and army spokesman Col. Sansern just finished addressing the public about the current situation. Col. Sansern said that the armed forces were only shooting into the air to disperse the crowd and two soldiers were injured.

ThaiPBS reporter showed that their cars have been hit by a stray bullet.

There have been reports that a foreign, possibly American, reporter has been injured by a bullet. Pantip forums has a screenshot from PTV showing the man being treated.

Teargas at Khok Wua intersection. (Picture by @legalnomads)