Police seize 1 Thai protest site, withdraw from a 2nd: Police in Thailand seized one anti-government rally site from protesters in Bangkok on Friday, but withdrew from a second site after a stand-off with demonstrators.
Riot police were able to reclaim the site at Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge peacefully and took control of the surrounding area on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue as independent protest groups abandoned their campsite and allowed officers to come in with almost no resistance, according to reports.
Police reportedly promised to seize more stages in the days to come.
But at the Chaeng Watthana rally site controlled by the monk Luang Pu Buddha Issara, police retreated from the site just before noon following a stand-off with protesters. The protesters blew whistles as the police retreated.
About 1,000 police advanced to within 50 metres of the protesters, but were blocked by demonstrators sitting in the street.
Chalerm Yubamrung, Director of the Centre for Maintaining of Peace and Order (CMPO), said ”Another attempt to reclaim the area near the government complex will begin tomorrow. Today is Makha Bucha Day so we should show Phra Buddha Issara some respect”.
Police said if negotiations to convince the monk to abandon the rally site fail, they will deploy 500 more officers on Saturday and make a second attempt to clear the Chaeng Watthana site, according to a Bangkok Post report.
Luang Pu Buddha Issara dismissed the warning and vowed to protect his camp by bringing more supporters to the site. The reinforcements will come from provinces outside Bangkok and not from other protest sites in the city.
He urged his supporters to use cars and other vehicles to block the road from a possible police raid.
Mr Chalerm claimed the police found explosive devices, ping-pong bombs, knives, sling-shots, and drugs at the Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge protest site after the authorities seized it on Friday.
Protest leaders dismissed his allegations, arguing that the items did not belong to the protesters.