Troops take on protesters in Bangkok

Troops take on protesters in Bangkok

A protester covers a video camera outside a shopping mall in Bangkok. AP

Protesters fought back, hurling petrol bombs at troops.

At least 171 people, including 64 soldiers and police, have been wounded in skirmishes near the Phan Fah bridge and Rajdumnoen Road in Bangkok’s old quarter, a protest base near government buildings and the regional UN headquarters.

Hundreds of “red shirt” protesters also forced their way into government offices in two northern cities, raising the risk of a larger uprising against Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
An earlier offensive by troops firing rubber bullets and smoke bombs had failed to clear the protesters, who had regrouped by nightfall as troops sent in reinforcements.

After a tense standoff, troops went on a second offensive about 500 metres away at Kok Woa intersection which leads to Bangkok’s famous Khao San Road tourist area.

“We fear sabotage by the red shirts so we are reinforcing troops on Rajdumnoen Road and the area to make sure the situation doesn’t spiral out of control,” army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said.

Tens of thousands of protesters also remained in Bangkok’s main shopping district, a stretch of upscale shopping plazas and five-star hotels and held for a week by the red shirts in a carnival-like atmosphere.

The red shirts used taxies and pickup-trucks to barricade themselves in that area, and expanded their control to include several more blocks.

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