Hundreds of anti-riot police agreed to retreat from the Chaengwattana protest site before noon today after almost two hours of confrontation with protesters.
Anti-riot police moved out their prison vans and boarded trucks to return to their bases in Nonthaburi.
The sudden pull-out of the area came after another group of government supporters were mobilizing people in the area to counter the anti-government protesters.
The police fear that the confrontation and the appearance of another group, believed to be red-shirts could lead to armed clashes of the two groups.
The Chaengwattana protest site became the small battle zone of two rival groups over a week ago. One person was killed and over a dozens injured in the gunfights.
The situation returned normal at noon today.
Feb 14 – Tempers flared at several anti-government rally sites in Thailand’s capital beginning early today as Thai police launched multi-pronged operations to retake occupied areas from anti-government protesters.
Police and demonstrators were in close confrontation risk-prone Chaeng Wattana Road where revered monk Phra Buddha Issara has been leading the protest to shut down Government Complex for almost a month.
Demonstrators sat on the road, blocking the entrance to Chaeng Wattna Soi 14, chanting Buddhist prayers on this Buddhist holy day as police, brought in mainly from nearby Ayutthaya province, formed a shield wall a few metres away on the opposite side of the road.
Shortly after dawn, Phra Buddha Isara led a group of Buddhist monks to receive alms from people, many of whom were dressed in white to mark the religious Makha Bucha day today amid reports since last night that police would storm the rally site.
Phra Buddha Issara calmed the protesters and reiterated non-violence in response to possible police force. Tyres were piled up on both sides of Chaeng Wattana Road to protect demonstrators.
On Rajdamnoen Avenue near Government House which has been occupied by protesters of the Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand (NSPRT) for the last three months, Metropolitan Police Commander Kamronwit Thoopkrachang led 20 companies of police to Miksakawan and Makkawan intersections near one of the entrances to Government House to retake the area.
Police demolished the protesters’ shelters, tents and obstruction materials before penetrating the area without any clash or violence. Protesters had earlier collected their belongings and departed the scene.
Police said they found home-made grenades, urea-mixed fertilizer, iron pellets, and other bomb-making components as well as the mildly-narcotic kratom (mitragynine) leaves.
Police said the protesters had violated the Emergency Decree – an offence liable to two years prison and a maximum fine of Bt40,000.
Protesters of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) who had sealed off the Interior Ministry for several months had been on alert overnight following a warning of a police raid early this morning.
The protesters vowed to continue keeping control of the area and said they believed PDRC members from Pathumwan rally site would move to the Interior Ministry as reinforcements.
The protesters were been on special alert since last night as supporters from other rally sites flowed in following repeated announcements on Bluesky Channel. MCOT