Police in Thailand’s capitol opened fire on anti-government protesters firing tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse another protest in Bangkok on Wednesday. The anti-government demonstration were organised by the Tha Lu Fah group and started at 3pm at Bangkok’s Victory Monument.
“Police are not our enemies. Our true enemy is the government,” one protester told the rally.
Hundreds of protesters threw paint at a line of riot police who confronted them as they tried to march to the residence of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at the 1st Infantry Regiment on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road.
Police responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse them. Protesters retaliated by flinging projectiles and setting a police tow truck on fire, sending black smoke pluming into the air. About a dozen demonstrators were arrested.
Police blocked the route to the prime minister’s house with shipping containers and razor wire. But sporadic clashes continued into the evening, with police deploying water cannon.
Bangkok Police officers injured
Eight officers were injured, mainly by protesters throwing fireworks, police said, adding that they had made 13 arrests.
“The protesters repeatedly attacked police by throwing firecrackers, ping pong bombs, and (using) slingshots,” Royal Thai Police deputy spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen told the Bangkok Post.
Tha Lu Fah posted a message on its social media platforms after the clash at the monument, admitting young protesters had thrown firecrackers at police as they moved in and started making arrests.
It was the second anti-government rally in two days in Bangkok.
Meanwhile, the Bangkok Metropolitan Police Bureau said the military could be called in to help quell violence at rallies if the situation gets out of hand, while police will stick to using tear gas and rubber bullets if needed.
The police will keep standing guard and avoid clashing with protesters unless they attempt to break into prohibited areas, said Metropolitan Police Bureau commissioner, Pol Lt Gen Pakapong Pongpetra said.
The police request for soldiers to help support its operation to maintain law and order at rallies was also discussed at a meeting of the armed forces, which was chaired by Thailand’s defence forces chief Gen Chalermpol Srisawasdi.
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