20 policemen injured as violence erupts during pro-democracy rally in Bangkok
Violence erupted at a pro-democracy rally in front of the Supreme Court in Bangkok on Saturday evening following clashes leaving 25 people injured.
Pol Colonel Kritsana Pattanacharoen, deputy police spokesman, said that some protesters attempted to attack some people who they believed were gunmen shooting at the protesters and police were injured in the situation.
Police later detained the suspect at Nang Loeng Police Station.
Kritsana said police needed to follow their tactics to prevent the protesters from entering the area.
Rocks and firecrackers were reportedly thrown at the police line, leaving 20 police injured. They were taken to police hospital for treatment.
Police detained a group of 7-8 protesters at Chana Songkhram Police Station and Nang Loeng Police Station for obstructing officers from performing their duties but have not charged them with any offence.
According to Bangkok Emergency Medical Service Center (Erawan Center), as of 7am on Sunday, 25 injured people from the rally on February 13 were brought to the hospital --- 20 officers to Police Hospital, 2 persons to Klang Hospital, one person each to Vajira, Mission and Phaetpanya hospitals.
The Ratsadon group started congregating at Democracy Monument at around 3.20pm. Police had placed steel barriers to block the protesters. One of the protest leaders, Panupong Chadnok aka Mike Rayong, said that there will be no orders to retreat on Saturday.
At 3.25pm, a Samranrat police officer told the assembly to disperse since it was against the law. The protesters reportedly started confronting the police and chased them away. Police retreated from the area and closed traffic around Democracy Monument.
At 5.30pm, Ratsadon group moved plant pots of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration around the Democracy Monument to the pavement.
At 6pm, the protesters raised the three-finger salute during the national anthem, and unfurled a large red cloth with various messages to cover the monument.
Attapon Buaphat demanded the release of arrested protest leaders before walking to Bangkok City Pillar shrine.
At 7pm, Ratsadon group members marched towards the Supreme Court, while police attempted to block the protesters using barbed wire fences and metal barricades.
Matters got out of hand when there was a collision between protesters and crowd control officers. The protesters reportedly threw objects at the police and dismantled the barbed wire fence. Witnesses said that during the violence, the sound of explosions occurred three times. The protesters gradually left the area, shouting curses.
At around 7.45pm, police officers negotiated with the protesters to send their representatives. The demonstrators sent Panupong and Panusaya "Rung" Sithijirawattanakul to negotiate at the police's barricade and allowed the media to send four representatives to take pictures.
Following negotiations, police opened the way for four Ratsadon members to pay a symbolic homage at the City Pillar Shrine. The protesters' representatives performed a water-pouring ceremony, asking the City Pillar to protect the people. After paying homage, as they walked back to the assembly line, they warned that if four arrested leaders were not freed within seven days, the protest level would be raised. After February 20, more groups from different provinces will join the protests.
The protesters called it a day at 8.20pm. However, soon after, a loud sound like an explosion occurred, causing disorder. Volunteer guards hurriedly took Rung out of the area. Once the situation had calmed down, Rung urged everyone to go home. There were 5-6 cases of minor injuries.
Meanwhile, the situation near the barricades was still tense. There were constant clashes between the guards and the officers, with the guards reportedly refusing to back down. Objects were thrown at staff. The officials issued a warning that if the protesters continued to throw objects at them, more stringent crowd control measures would be taken.
Close to 9pm, police gave the protesters a 30-minute deadline to leave the area, and if the activities did not end, the protest would be dissolved with force.
After the police announcement, there were continuous explosions, reportedly thrown by volunteer guards continuously at the police. Then the police announced that special weapons should be prepared ti dissolve the assembly. Two protesters got arrested immediately.
Colonel Kritsana said the police did not use any force at the rally. He said 7-8 protesters were arrested and taken to Chana Songkhram Police Station, and more than 20 policemen were injured.