Clashes between army and Red Shirts paralyze Bangkok

The Red Shirts’ decision this Wednesday to move out of Rachaprasong in a convoy to reach northern Bangkok was followed by a violent confrontation with the government’s security forces. The latter fired warning shots with rubber bullets, wounding at least 17 protesters. One policeman was also wounded during the standoff. Since this morning, following the announcement by the Red Shirts to occupy different parts of Bangkok, checkpoints had been set up at Bangkok’s major crossroads.

Traffic came to a standstill in the Vibhavadi Rangsit area up to Bangkok’s old airport site at Don Muang, where violent clashes erupted between the Red Shirts and police forces. The tollway to the airport was closed by the police.

It has been reported that hundreds of Red Shirts seized control of an LPG gas station at Don Muang. Security forces arrested Kwanchai Phraphana, a Red Shirt leader near Don Muang airport, prompting possibly more acts of retaliation from anti-government protesters. This late afternoon, police started to close more intersections to car traffic. This again prompted speculations of an imminent crackdown against the fortified camp of the Red Shirts in central Bangkok.

The situation remains very confusedm and for the first time Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva evocated on the BBC his possible resignation. The issue is now more than just about the PM personality. It is more than ever about the deep divisions shaking Thai society, with most Thai people agreeing that the Kingdom as it used to be may soon be history. A new Thailand is slowly emerging. And like in many other countries, it is a painful delivery.