LIVE UPDATES: Police and protesters struggle for control of Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong Intersection

Crowd continues to swell Thursday evening at Ratchaprasong Intersection after protesters wrested control of it from the police. Photo: Coconuts
Crowd continues to swell Thursday evening at Ratchaprasong Intersection after protesters wrested control of it from the police. Photo: Coconuts

Protesters pushed back against a tide of police officers who moved in earlier this afternoon to clear the area around Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong Intersection in a bid to block a protest rally and stamp out the growing anti-government movement.

Dodging and shifting positions, swelling ranks of protesters as of 4pm had gained ground against the large force and were in control of the intersection, which they poured into after officers attempted to clear the area. By 5pm, several thousand people had filled the streets, encircled by police, some in riot gear, who are refusing to let anyone in or out despite ordering them to disperse by 6pm. After protesters clashed with police in an unsuccessful attempt to break their line, officers moved back to create more space.

As dusk fell at 6pm, police did not move to enforce the order as protesters sang the national anthem. The adjacent Amarin Plaza and Gaysorn Plaza shopping malls closed early at 6pm.

More people were still flooding in, extending the protest area outside the police cordon down Sukhumvit Road.

Chants of “Death to dictatorship!” “The people will rise” and “Get out Prayuth, you sonofabitch!” have been washing over the busy intersection in the heart of cosmopolitan Bangkok. “Free our friends!” many are calling, in reference to key leaders and protesters arrested this morning.

Protesters fill Ratchaprasong demanding that Gen. Prayuth Chan-o-cha step down from power. Image: Coconuts
Protesters fill Ratchaprasong demanding that Gen. Prayuth Chan-o-cha step down from power. Image: Coconuts

Earlier, around 3pm, hundreds of officers locked arm-in-arm forcibly cleared the skywalk over the intersection where the rally was set to begin at 4pm. An encampment established last night at the Government House was cleared before dawn and a new state of emergency imposed over the capital. Protesters and reporters alike were forced out of the CentralWorld shopping mall, and police attempted to clear the streets around the intersection.

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“You’re violating the state of emergency!” police said through a megaphone. “Get out!” people yelled in response.

Army and police deploy in Bangkok to seal off protest site

Earlier, some had sat on the ground or attempted to resist the police, but the sheer number of officers had been steadily clearing the area. Soldiers have been spotted around but have not been seen engaging protesters.

Gatherings of more than four people are now banned in the capital, and the police have said they will arrest offenders.

As of 5pm, police had fully encircled protesters in the street. Some are now brandishing helmets and shields and preventing anyone from leaving.
As of 5pm, police had fully encircled protesters in the street. Some are now brandishing helmets and shields and preventing anyone from leaving.
Security forces seal the gate at BTS Chit Lom in Bangkok just before 3pm on Thursday. Photo: Coconuts
Security forces seal the gate at BTS Chit Lom in Bangkok just before 3pm on Thursday. Photo: Coconuts

This is a developing story and may be updated without notice.

Reporting Chayanit Itthipongmaetee, Thitima Sukontaros, writing Todd Ruiz

 

 

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CITY: BANGKOKCATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: POLITICS

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