Note: This post highlights everything what happened after I had to sign off from the live blog earlier today.
Another day of deadly clashes send central Bangkok deeper and deeper into a spiral of violence and already too far away for any peaceful solution of this conflict. Official figures report six have been killed today, 31 injured. None of them are soldiers.
After the CRES has gone on air two times today, prime minister Abhisit was seen publicly for the first time in many days when he made a TV address Saturday evening.
“We regret that the campaign has claimed lives of people. However it is the only choice we could do to deal with the situation,” he said in a special TV-pool programme,” he said. He ensured that the campaign will do the best to keep the loss minimal.
He said the reds have held hostage the country and the government , therefore, the government has no choice but to suppress them. He insisted that the government had tried every means to handle the chaos in the country which is caused by “the terrorists”.
“The only way to end the loss of lives is that the protest ends immediately. The protest has been organised for the benefits of just small groups of people,” the premier said. He called for people not to participate in the cycle that created chaos in the country. (…)
He also called for the public to screen information about the situation, particularly that from the reds side, because they could claim anything without giving evidence and proof.
“PM regret loss of lives“, The Nation, May 15, 2010
It was important for Abhisit to show up as questions about his presence were looming and also to show that he’s (at least appears) in power and has not been sidelined by the military. Abhisit more or less admits that diplomatic means to end the protests have failed and that this is the only way to end this protest.
Many video footages of today’s clashes from international media, like this one from the BBC, were made on Rama IV Road, South of the rally site, but similar scenes happened elsewhere in Bangkok:
There were many reports on the streets that snipers were firing at protesters. Some of the protesters were setting barricades of tires on fire, sending up tall plumes of smoke apparently in an effort to keep out troops, who have been setting up a cordon around the protest area.
“Thai Government Takes Harder Stance as Clashes Continue“, by Seth Mydans and Thomas Fuller, New York Times, May 15, 2010
This video shows a military sniper from building shooting at protesters.
Also, CNN correspondent Dan Rivers has footage (starting at 2:40 minutes) from the same spot and also reports that the video “clearly shows that the army is shooting at people“.
As I’m writing this another day beings in Bangkok and there’ll be likely violent clashes and casualties again. Both fractions will stay their course and try to chase the other side away. The situation has become increasingly life-threatening for third parties such as ambulance workers and members of the media. At the rally site itself the first effects of the blockade have appeared in form of food shortages, but the speakers on the stage cheer the supporters to carry on.
- Jodi Ettenberg (Legal Nomads): More Deadly Clashes in Central Bangkok (Eyewitness account from local blogger and media roundup)
- Patrick Winn (Global Post): Counting Bodies, One Click at at Time (The role of social media during this crisis)
- Thomas Fuller (New York Times): The Fury Outside My Window (Eyewitness account)
- Nirmal Ghosh (Straits Times): Thailand: The Land of Snarls (A battle of words among red and yellow supporters)
- Greg to Differ: The Role of Twitter in the Bangkok Protests