May 18th, 2010
06:50 PM ET

Troops begin massing in central Bangkok

Several hundred military troops began massing in central Bangkok early Wednesday - the largest movement of forces since clashes broke out last Thursday between opposition protesters and government security officials.

The troops were seen walking in a long column and carrying razor wire and fire extinguishers near the site where the protesters have been launching demonstrations.

Opposition leaders told CNN in a phone call that armored personnel carriers were also spotted near the protest site, but that report could not be immediately confirmed.

It was not clear where the troops were heading, but the large show of force raised speculation that some sort of military operation could be unfolding to root out about 5,000 protesters still occupying the demonstration area.

At least 36 people have been killed since clashes intensified Thursday.

The violence prompted the United Nations' top human rights official to implore anti-government protesters and government officials to resume talks.

Satit Wongnongtaey, the Thai prime minister's office spokesman, said negotiations can be held when the opposition, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, ends its protest.

"I can confirm that the government has always wanted to talk, but it has been let down by the UDD, due to the
intervention of a mastermind abroad," said Satit, who didn't identify the person.

The opposition members, also known as Red Shirts, support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 bloodless military coup.

The capital city was notably calmer Tuesday. But after more than five days of violent standoffs, debris and piles of tires littered battle-scarred streets, and the sound of gunfire still regularly punctuated the air.

Police spokesman Col. Songphol Watanachai told reporters Tuesday that police had seized 9,021 tires from the city's streets. Burning tires have been used by protesters to create shields of black smoke during recent clashes.

Songphol said police had arrested and were interrogating a Red Shirt protester who was a close aide to Maj. Gen. Khattiya Sawasdipol, better known as Seh Daeng - a renegade leader of a violent anti-government faction who died this week after being shot in the head by a sniper.

As troops continued their crackdown on protesters, Amnesty International criticized the government's approach.

Benjamin Zawacki, the organization's Thailand specialist, told CNN that 35 of the people killed since Thursday were unarmed, including a 17-year-old boy and two medics.

"Our concern is that the government is using live ammunition or live rounds pre-emptively, rather than as a last resort, and using them against persons who are unarmed and present no credible threat to the soldiers or anyone else," he said.

But government officials maintained that they were following rules of engagement. Troops only use live bullets when first attacked by terrorists with war weapons, Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd told reporters.

Two main groups of anti-government demonstrators have been demanding that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva dissolve the lower house of Parliament and call new elections: the Red Shirts, whose leaders claim that protesters are peaceful, and the Black Shirts, who advocate a more violent approach.

The government ordered all demonstrators to leave their protest site by 3 p.m. Monday, but thousands continued to hold their ground.

"As the latest government deadline passes, there is a high risk that the situation could spiral out of control," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Monday. "To prevent further loss of life, I appeal to the protesters to step back from the brink, and the security forces to exercise maximum restraint in line with the instructions given by the government. Ultimately, this situation can only be resolved by negotiation."

The Ministry of Public Health reported that 65 people have died and more than 1,000 have been wounded since the Red Shirt anti-government protesters began flooding the streets of Bangkok on March 12 to demand new elections.

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Filed under: Thailand
soundoff (191 Responses)
  1. Sam

    Using army snipers to murder innocent unarmed people on the street is a WAR CRIME, crime against humanity. Where is UN????????

    May 18, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • HARHARHAR

      the A-dude prime minister or whatever told the UN to GTFO. didn't you read the article?

      May 18, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Murdering innocent people is undoubtedly a crime, but I don't think any government has intentions of killing their own people, not on purpose at the very least. But what about the red shirts? Aren't destroying public properties and riotings crimes too?

      Red shirts want democracy because they think that democracy is good for the country. If so, how is causing chaos and destruction any good for Thailand? If the red shirts love Thailand, stop destroying it! The least the red shirts could do to help the country is to go home and take care of their children, rather than building barricades and placing their children on them, using them as human shields, hoping for them to get shot so that the government would look bad.

      May 18, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eddie

      Sam, the General that was sniped was far from innocent; he was the lead suspect in the throwing of live hand grenades into crowds of yellow shirts. The civilians, as well as the Thai solders, that have been killed there are the innocent people, not the tyrant General. If this ridiculous situation had happened in the US, we would've put a stop to the 'red shirts' a very long time ago. The red shirts call themselves the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, but it's very hypocritical considering they are trying to overthrow democracy in their country. The PM is NOT a dictator, he is the PM, and the red shirts want him to hold elections early just because they didn't vote for him and because they don't like him. That'd be the same thing as me not voting for Obama, and committing acts of terror and using force to get Obama to hold elections early and leave the country. It's called democracy because the people vote their leaders into office. The country voted for the PM, so red shirts.....quit your whining and learn to live with democracy. Also, it'd be wise to change your names. Take 'democracy' out of it, because it's clear you don't care about it.

      May 18, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • dboy

      In general, I'd say Sam is uninformed about the political situation. But on the sniper issue...I do believe the military WAS behind it (the only question really is what FACTION within the Army). A bit of technical info of interest. Seh Daeng was shot (a single gunshot to the head) by a sniper positioned above the crowd (45-degree or greater angle entrance wound). The ammo used was .308 Winchester..the classic modern professional sniper round. The US government HAS sold M24 Sniper rifles to the government of Thailand, which use the .308 round. Which means Thai teams have likely been trained to use this rifle. I have been unable so far to verify whether or not Thai Army snipers have been trained in the past at Ft Benning (location of the US Sniper School). At the very least, they would have had some type of precision shooting training somewhere. The type of round used and the way it was used leads me to believe it was professional..and likely military. Now, there are various factions within the military, so this assassination may very well not have had government approval. There's no way to know that at this point.

      May 18, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • dathedent

      unarmed people???? you're sure fooled by international news.....Now the leaders called off....there are bombs right in front of the stage as responses as the leaders walked out less than 500 metres...

      May 19, 2010 at 3:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Trueblood american

      Sam you have a point but they dont care about war ethnics like us. They will do anything to kill and strike terror. THAT IS WHY WE ARE THERE.

      May 19, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sam

    Obama, WHERE are you?????
    You said you supported democracy. I voted for you!!!!!!!!!

    May 18, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • To sam

      Yes yes Obama would do the same if these people get refugee status after the end of this story and seize time square

      May 18, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Victor Ma

      I already sent him an E-mail asking for help saving lives of Thai civilians. I know there is a little chance that he will read my E-mail. I am just an orinary citizen who cannot stand the killing of people.

      May 18, 2010 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. sCam

    Sam, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. In such a case, it's better to keep your mouth closed, or in this case, your fingers away from the keyboard.

    May 18, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      I happen to believe that Sam does know what he is talking about.

      May 18, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eddie

      Absolutely agreed. I bet he's from Thailand, a red shirt himself, just trying to make a fus. That's what the red shirts do best, complain and do nothing...nothing but commit acts of terrorism.

      May 18, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sam

    Hey at the least in my country no one can tell me or use a sniper to SHUT me up. We have a free speech here!!!

    May 18, 2010 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dj

      Ok Sam but when radicals in this country used snipers to shut up MLK and Kennedy what we're they doing??? Oh exercising free speech

      May 18, 2010 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • OneGuy

      No sniper? Like President Kennedy?

      May 18, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Victor Ma

      I agree with you Sam. You are right. Those who support the killing of Thai civilians, are sickening mind. What kind of human being are they?

      May 18, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Troebal

    Typical slanted reporting. Why not mention that to Red leaders were booed off the stage when they proposed peace talks. How about opposition party members saying that Thaksin is against peace because he hasn't gotten what he wants yet. Might have mentioned the reporter who was attacked by the reds in what was supposed to be a safe zone because they thought she was saying something against them. There is democracy in action for you. How about the red shirts looting stores, setting buildings on fire and then blocking access for fire trucks. Great job of reporting once again.

    May 18, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • brownie expert

      another brown nazi got his head deep in the sand. keep it there.

      May 18, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • HARHARHAR

      brownie expert failed to identify the hallucinogens in his brownies. think again when you're not high.

      May 18, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. IamTHAI

    The Thai government has showed such patience and leniancy in these Red Protests. They have used rubber bullets and tear gas extensively; only to have grenades thrown at them and live ammunition fired back at them. Using brainwashed simple village women and children and tires as shields. If the Thai government wanted to; it could just heavily crack down on these protestors; but at the cost much lost lives. The Red Shirts are trying to manipulate the International media – in hopes that this would cause a Government dissolution. Someone is paying the Red shirt leaders to do all this through corruption money. It is so sad to see.

    May 18, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • brownie expert

      u must have your nazi ass buried in the sand huh?

      May 18, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • dboy

      I agree with you on this. Police/military in most other countries would have teargassed/shot the protesters by now. I have been very impressed by the restraint shown this time. No doubt the memories of 1992 Black May incident are a factor here.

      May 18, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. brownie expert

    damn brown nazis they are.

    May 18, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • OneGuy

      And you? The one who put that Nuke on Hiroshima an Nagasaki?

      May 18, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sam needs to STFU

    It's best for Obama to let this play out, there are more important things going on HERE in this country right now.

    May 18, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MM

    what are you speaking Sam!
    This is not king or queen order!
    by the way Red shirt isn't innocent!
    Government give chance for them many time but they don't do anything just fire our country!

    May 18, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MM

    Red shirt isn't innocent!
    just TERRORIST!

    May 18, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • brownie expert

      mm is brown nazi supporter.

      May 18, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • MM

      thak you but I'm just Thai people in Bangkok!
      I think you're nazi more than me

      May 18, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • dboy

      These protests have nothing to do with Nazis! There is no parallel to nazi germany. Many people hear don't have the first clue about Thailand.

      May 18, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Thai pp

    The Thai army attack the protester with all the wepons thay have. This is not a war. this is a murder.

    May 18, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • OneGuy

      If they do so. There were piles after piles of dead bodies now.

      May 18, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      The red shirts attack the Thai army with all the weapons they have. This is not a war, this is a murder!

      May 18, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jeff

    The illegitimate government is in deep do-do.

    May 18, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Victor Ma

    HELP!!!
    Somebody please help the protesters now before the Thai government orders their army start to kill more civilians.
    People have right to speak, to express the opinions, to say things against their government.

    Somebody please give me advise what I should do. I feel so sad since the government has ordered more troop ever to end this protest.

    Please help save lives of Thai civilians.

    May 18, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • I'm thai

      Why you call for help just let they come home
      but they don't choose to came back by themselves

      May 18, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • OneGuy

      Protesters, real and unarmed, will be safe. Geurillas will not.

      May 18, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Democracy

      Won't happen. The PAD, military, democratic party has been ruling for centuries. They are not going to give up their power. The RED votes will never be respected.

      May 18, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Intriiigue

      Sam and Victor Ma, I understand that you both feel the same way about the Thai government; The Royal family, the King of Thailand, especially. I know for fact based on your comment that neither one of you even know that THAILAND has NEVER been colonized or ruled by any countries in the WORLD.
      The King and the Royal family committed
      to better Thailand and the people for centuries, before you even existed on this earth.
      Thailand is a beautiful place to live and wanted by the terrorists who can plan to do harm to the USA from there as well.
      Do you two even know exactly where Thailand is on the map of the world, huh?!

      May 18, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      Last night on AlJasera's interview, thai official made a statement that it's necessary to crack down for the sake of the country stability similar to Tein Anmin square
      AND I couldn't believe my ears .... SO STUPID to make such a statement !!!!!!!

      May 18, 2010 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MM

    thak you but I'm just Thai people in Bangkok!

    May 18, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • AJ

      stop your mouth stup. I'm bangkokian and lived in the red zone. Abhisit go hell

      May 18, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • I'm thai

      some house of people in redzone burned by redshirt it strange why you still hate abhisit. He do this for get out red shirt for you
      I'm confuse

      May 18, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • AJ

      MM, if u didn't know the truth, don't open your mouth. You should go help support your idol, Abhisit more than barking here. btw, we gonna take him to ICC court.

      May 18, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • MM

      Abhisit isn't my idol but Maybe you must bark to your idol Thaksin Motrenego people

      May 18, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. AJ

    Thailand will be like Rwanda soon. It clearly to show that US Govt. support this tyrant thai govt. as a rumor. Shame on you, US Govt., bcos you was playing around to other countries in the past so they revenge you back likes Vietnam war, Afganistan, Iran. 9/11 was the result of what you done. American people, pls find out what your govt did to Thailand in the past. You will know the story.

    May 18, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
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