Anti-government protesters take up position with their homemade weapons in Bangkok
Protestors have camped for weeks in Bangkok preparing for battle. The tyres, bamboo and netting that form the barricade that divides the government opposition from the ranks of soldiers and riot police is growing. The mood is defiant; and tense.
SAt one point, the protesters believe that the authorities are about to break through. The protesters run for the barricade, grabbing sharpened bamboo sticks to retain their ground. “I will take this and I will kill them,” says one protester, a scarf covering his face.
This is the front line of the battle that has closed down part of Bangkok. For the first time since the start of the political chaos, Thailand's ailing king spoke yesterday but did not directly address the seven-week anti-government protests that have killed at least 26 people and wounded 1,000.
In comments from the hospital where he has been since September, King Bhumibol Adulyadej (82) said judges must act properly: “This will give people the determination to perform their own duties as well.”
In central Bangkok, the protesters, known as the Red Shirts, heeded calls by their leaders to dump their red shirts and go undercover — many wore black with red scarves — in an attempt to sow confusion among the soldiers and police camped out across the road.
The protesters are mainly supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted by a military coup in 2006 but who still commands huge support — unlike the incumbent Abhisit Vejjajiva. Mr Abhisit has rejected holding fresh elections in a month's time. Mr Thaksin fled Thailand but yesterday he said he was in contact with the protesters.
Mr Thaksin's input adds to the feeling that this conflict is on the brink of civil war.