Live blog: The crackdown?
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Live blog: The crackdown?

2:15. One government and military line has been that the soldiers only fire real bullets into the air. So have a look at this short video from a Swedish TV channel and in particular the last 5 seconds. Those guns are not pointed in the air. They also don’t look like guns that fire rubber bullets.

BP: The soldiers had guns and at least 9 civilians have been killed so the government should at least consider the possibility that it was the soldiers who did it instead of insisting on this line that the military only fired into the air.

That is it for now. Will continue with single posts tomorrow morning.

2:00. Front page of Kom Chud Leuk is below:

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Headline: Thais kill Thais

01:30. Prachatai reports (Thai only) 15 were killed. It has the names of 11 of the fifteen and the hospitals of the other 4.

00:55 The Nation:

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.

BP: Have a read of the article for the details. No one comes out of this looking good.

00:10 Below is BP’s summary of Abhisit’s press statement about 45 minutes ago:

I am sorry to hear on the deaths of the people who died tonight. I have said from the beginning that as long as protests were within the law that we were happy to talk. However, when beyond the law, we have to uphold the law. There have been many instances of sabotage over the past few weeks. Then, what happened on Friday [the reds going to restore the satelite link for PTV] affected key institutions of the state which effected not only the government but also of the state as a whole. Therefore, because of this, we needed to take action to obtain the return of some protest areas.

From this afternoon, you will be able to see that the protesters had weapons too in particular the M79 which caused deaths. The real bullets used by the authorities was only used for shooting up in the air or in in self-defence. When we know of the deaths, the army withdrew. We will have an investigation  what happened on how people died.

BP: Will Abhisit’s performance help him? BP thinks he did ok, but well am not so sure the reds or his supporters will be that happy.

23:50 Reuters confirms the death of their journalist:

A Reuters cameraman was killed in a violent clash between Thai troops and anti-government protesters in Bangkok on Saturday.
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/>Hiro Muramoto, a Japanese national who worked for Thomson Reuters in Tokyo, was shot in the chest and arrived at Klang Hospital without a pulse, said the hospital’s director, Dr. Pichaya Nakwatchara.
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/>”I am dreadfully saddened to have lost our colleague Hiro Muramoto in the Bangkok clashes,” said David Schlesinger, Reuters Editor-in-Chief.

23:05: BBC:

Nine people have been killed and 300 hurt in clashes in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, as troops tried to retake areas from anti-government protesters.
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/>Soldiers and police fired tear gas and rubber bullets as they advanced after dusk on the red-shirt protesters, who responded by throwing petrol bombs.
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/>The army has now called for a truce, saying its troops have retreated.
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/>The protesters, who want the government to call new elections, have been camped out in parts of the city for a month

22:40. The Nation:

Erawan Rescue Center’s chief Phetpong Kitjakarn said a total of eight people were killed during the clashes.
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/>At least 486 people, soldiers and red shirts protesters were wounded.
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/>He confirmed that one victim was a Japanese reporter of Reuters news agency.

21:59. AP:

Hospital official says at least five killed in clashes between protesters and security forces in the Thai capital, including a Japanese journalist.
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/>Pichaya Nakwatchara, the director of BMA General Hospital, said the journalist worked for the Thomson Reuters news agency. The hospital said the other four fatalities were protesters.
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/>Earlier, protesters marched the body of a man believed killed in fighting to their encampment.

21:53. ThaiPBS: Jatuporn is saying no negotiation

21:45. ThaiPBS: 5 people killed; 4 shot & 1 clubbed to death. From multiple journalists on twitter one of the dead is a Japanese Reuters reporter.

21:36. Tulsathit of The Nation tweets “[c]entral Hospital said one 43-year old red protester died after apparently getting clubbed in the head (via smsMCOT)”

Tulsathit of The Nation also tweets “[s]ome bad signs, though  @Bancha_nna: reports that red leaders had snatched two bodies from Hua Chiew Hospital, bringing them back to Phan fa”

21:24. Tulsathit of The Nation tweets:

Nuttawut: “Don’t talk about revenge now. Most important is everyone must b safe. Media must b my witness that we had negotiated with Kobsak”

BP: More confirmation of a retreat by both sides.

21:12. In response, Channel 3’s Kitti tweets (in Thai) that red shirt leader Nattuwat has said that reds are ready to only protest at Phan Fa (ส่วนณัฐวุฒิ ก็ประกาศพร้อมชุมนุมที่ผ่านฟ้าจุดเดียว).

BP: It seems we have a retreat by both sides, for now.

21:07. Army spokesman and CAPO spokemsan Col. Sansern: Soldiers only fired bullets into air. Reds used real guns to fire at soldiers as well as M26 & M79 grenades. Army has retreated. Korbsak, of government, will make contact with red shirt leaders to resolve the situation.

21:05. Acting Govt spokesman Panitan on ThaiPBS: Two items believed to be M79 grenades fired into Govt House. One exploded; one didn’t. Still investigating. At the clashes at Kok Wua intersection, many injured on both sides in clashes. Still collecting evidence.

21:00 Ok, was on twitter. Will live blog again. There are skirmshes at Kow Wua intersection, which is near Khao San Road, many injuries. From ThaiPBS the soliders fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the red crowd. The reds responded by hitting the soliders with sticks, throwing rocks, and other items which caused many injuries. Various gun shots heard and injuries reported.

19:55. AP’s earlier report:

Emboldened Thai protesters vowed Saturday to ratchet up pressure on the government after their first violent skirmish with soldiers eroded the prime minister’s credibility and exposed concerns about the army’s loyalty.
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Police made a failed effort to serve arrest warrants on three protest leaders in the morning, and tensions rose when the demonstrators — who with trucks and motorcycles form a sort of mobile strike force — gathered outside the Bangkok headquarters of the 1st Army Region. The government-run NBT television network reported that water cannons and rubber bullets were used to try to push back the protesters.
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/>The confrontation raised concern at a main rally site, in the heart of Bangkok’s shopping and tourist district, that authorities were planning an imminent raid. Protest leaders handed out damp towels to protect against tear gas, and called for more followers to gather.
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/>Earlier, a leader of the anti-government “Red Shirt” movement said Saturday that the demonstrations would not take time off for next week’s Thai New Year holiday, known as Songkran, as some had expected.
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/>”We will not stop protesting. We will stay on and fight until the Parliament is dissolved,” said prominent protest leader Nattawut Saikua. “If we have to stay until Songkran, we will.”

AP’s latest report:

Thai security forces launched a large-scale crackdown Saturday on anti-government demonstrators who have been staging disruptive protests in the Thai capital for the past month, vowing to clear one of their main encampments by nightfall. Scores of people have been hurt in street clashes.
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/>Chaotic confrontations broke out in several locations, mostly involving pushing and shoving by the two sides, though some protesters wielded sticks and threw rocks, while security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets

Reuters on what is happening upcountry:

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.

Reuters on the early events of the protests:

“We are asking for the Phan Fah bridge area back and we are about 200 meters (from) where about 4,000 protesters are,” Sansern said. A red shirt protest leader at the scene said the army was “hurting people.”
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/>”Please come out. Help us reclaim the area back or the army will kill us, red shirt brothers and sisters!” he shouted. “Do not panic. We have to stick with non-violence.”
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/>The crowd repeatedly chanted “Abhisit, get out!,” referring to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva who was due to address the nation in the afternoon from an army barracks that has been the government’s operation center for the past month.

BBC on today’s events:

Thai troops are moving against two anti-government camps in the capital, Bangkok, vowing to clear at least one of them before dusk.
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/>More than 90 people have been injured in clashes so far as security forces fired rubber bullets at the opposition red-shirted demonstrators.
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/>Earlier, security forces retook an anti-government satellite TV station.

19:00 Getting ready for the ThaiPBS evening news.

18:50. For that earlier report on ThaiPBS vehicle hit by a bullet, see the YouTube video. From Reuters, see this slideshow of 179 photos from the crackdown in Bangkok today. Also, this report from Reuters:

Thai troops fired rubber bullets at opposition “red shirts” on Saturday as they moved in to clear a protest site in Bangkok in the biggest confrontation in the month-long campaign for new elections, witnesses said.
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/>The red shirts took their protest to the northern city of Chiang Mai, where hundreds forced their way into the governor’s office compound in protest at the crackdown in Bangkok.
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/>At least 93 people, including 22 soldiers and police, were injured in a series of clashes near the Phan Fah bridge and Rajdumnoen Road in the capital, near several government and army buildings and the regional U.N. headquarters, hospital officials said.
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/>At least five suffered gunshot wounds, including a freelance photographer shot in the stomach, they said.

18:20. Just trying to get a handle of the sequence of today’s events. Slight aside while looking. Remember the pink shirt protests in Lumpini a week or so ago.

18:15. TNN reports that a person from a (army ?) helicopter is throwing tear gas into protesters.

17:55. We seem to have a lull in proceedings for now.

17:30. MCOT reports 84 injured. Can see one red with an injury. Most of the reported injuries are from red shirts. TNN shows injured arriving at a hospital.

BP: In 2008, after crackdown on PAD in front of parl. PAD used images of injuries as part of narrative against govt. Expect UDD to do the same

17:00. PM Abhisit to go on the air. Scrap that. He is not. We only have Panitan, acting govt spokesman, and Col Sansern who is normally army spokesman, but now is the spokesman of the security centre set up to deal with the emergency situation.

Panitan: Today’s actions by the authorities was to return things to a state of normalcy. It is necessary to return the area occupied by the protesters to the people. The actions today were in accordance with international and legal practices. Authorities acted with care. Authorities are taking action by issuing warrants and summons for those who have broken the law. Be careful of false news.

Col. Sansern: 200-300 protesters were trying to break into the 1st Army Region this morning. We used water cannons. Reds went back 2 Phan Fa & said army was cracking down. Things happened quite quickly so unable to say what steps were used at what time. Authorities acted reasonably. There are rumours that authorities used real bullets on protesters. Not true. Only shot in air 5 minutes. Rumours that authorities have put a bounty on red shirt leaders again not true.

BP: Well one guesses the Reuters photographer was mistaken as Col. Sansern would never lie, right??

16:55. Reuters:

Thai troops fired directly at “red shirt” protesters at a bridge next to the regional U.N. headquarters, wounding at least one in the arm, a Reuters photographer said.
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/>The army has been told to “reclaim” a protest site at the nearby Phan Fah bridge in old Bangkok. There were about 4,000 protesters left in the area and the troops had about 200 metres to clear before they get to the main stage, an army spokesman said.
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/>Hundreds of troops also massed at a downtown protest site, apparently ready to move in, and the crowd was growing by the hour.

16:40. Well TV programs have returned to their normal programming (yes, nothing live about what is happening even the cable TNN 24 hour news channel) although the Army’s Channel 5 have an interview with acting government spokesman Panitan. He states the authorities are trying to control the situation.  No deadline to remove protesters from Phan Fa. Authorities will act in accordance with international practices

16.25. ThaiPBS reporter at the scene near Phan Fa showing that their vehicles was hit by a bullet (they are holding up the casing). She believes from the trajectory of the bullet that it was fired in the air and it has come down on a 45 degree angle and scraped the top of one car and the bullet hit their van.

16:14. ThaiPBS: Army want to reclaim Phan Fa by 6 p.m, but now we can see the army retreating to reds clapping and cheering.

16:12. Tulsathit of The Nation on twitter:

Nuttawut: “This is just first round. Even if Phan Fa will b taken, govt can never win”

16:10. ThaiPBS: Army was trying to get back the Phan Fa bridge (main area where the red shirts were protesting) and were using tear gas and rubber bullets to do so.

16:00. ThaiPBS: Pinklao bridge has closed. Watching the video and there is a lot of tear gas being fired.

15:55. ThaiPBS has video of use of tear gas Makkawan bridge. ThaiPBS reporter at scene states that soldiers at firing guns into the air (from video though some guns are at horizontal level). Unsure whether rubber bullets or real ones.

15:45.  ThaiPBS: PM to go on TV within the next 20 minutes. Also, via e-mail, there is a great selection of AP photos here.

15:30. Ok, have been push with a few other things, but can blog now. Via TNN, the skytrain/BTS has been closed down. Also, see New Mandala for an open thread.