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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Being on the spot in Bangkok is not a good scene.

Bangkok 9PM May 15 2010
I published an update about the situation in Bangkok today on www.PerformanceController.com But as many don't get that I am posting it again here. For those who have friends in Bangkok I will keep that one updated in the comments section as events unfold which you can check.  Others watching the crisis in Bangkok can also post any news updates there too.

Since then at At 5:35 today Saturday, from my apartment in Sukhumvit, I heard what sounded like a bomb explode. Minutes later local news reports said it was an M79 grenade fired at a police flat in the Lumpini area. It injured three women and a policeman. It was roported the grenade landed on the fourth floor of the flat building.


Sukhumi Road between Soi 1 thru 19 and Asoke when I went out for dinner about 7PM had soldiers and heavy army equipment highly present and the access passage under the freeway from Sukhumvit to Ploenchit Road, going west was completely blocked off. The skytrain which closed at 4PM had army personnel at entrances. I presume this is to limit unauthorised entry and the potential for lofty access for people who may do something to cause harm to others.

What someone said looked like razor wire has also been dumped on the central medium strip near Sukhumvit 7 clearly in readiness to limit trouble if needed. It was quite unsettling there and with tensions mounting.

I am now inside for a quite night at home and what seem a very good choice.

Bangkok 2PM May 15 2010
This week  when I returned to imageBangkok the scene is far from good.  While I was at a business dinner last night in the peace of the famous Encota Italian restaurant, violence was erupting just nearby in the city for the second day running.
This morning when I awoke 16 more people are dead including some foreigners with scores more injured as the government tries to end the two month long protest rallies.
Heading along the 2 Km stretch from my home in Sukhumvit to our Bangkok office in Central World in Chilton is not an option as it stands in epicenter of the troubles. On that stretch all business there is now closed.
All around the city in the last few days I have seem army and flak jacketed police which tells the tail of the tensions here. To visit one of our clients in the east of the city means I have to go past the Prime Ministers home which since the trouble began has been heavily guarded.

Following last nights violence as I went for some breakfast nearby this morning, I was most disturbed at hearing a motor bike rider say he had just seen three people lying dead on the road near the rally zone. He said  they been left unattended because no-one wanted to risk their life to remove the bodies.
As an insight to the perspective of some who is involved in the troubles, sadly this morning I read a former senator and secretary of a children foundation, Wallop Tangkhananurak, called on leaders to immediately evacuate children and aged people from Rajprasong rally zone. Wallop said about 70 per of the demonstrators are children and aged people.

And this morning Silom Road, which is always bustling, became deserted. It has just been reported that only a few 7-Eleven shops are remaining open. At 10:30 am , troops used orange plastic roadblocks to set up several layers of barricades to seal off the area.

The escalating gravity was lifted on Thursday when Seh Daeng, who is one of the protest leaders was shot. He remains in critical condition after being shot in the head while engaged in an interview with foreign press.  This and ongoing events is reported to be fueling calls by protest leaders for people in some provinces to come to Bangkok to bolster the protesters.

I just heard report of two explosions being heard in front of the Ua-Chuliang Building near the Saladeng Intersection  (11:40 am Saturday.) The sound of gunfire followed the explosions.
The major area of troubled activity is in the clusters around the Rajprasong intersection as shown on this map.

Needleless to say, it is not a safe scene to be in the streets near the troubles so the advice is to keep a safe distance and don't venture far. I intend doing just that until I leave for Australia next week.



Following May 15, 2010 chronology published in the Nation earlier this morning shows events of a military operation to close in on the red shirts' protest site.

12.12pm: Five thousand troops start blockading Suan Lum Night Bazaar and fire tear gas. Gunshots are heard shortly afterwards.
12.15pm: Soldiers fire tear gas to reclaim the area near Suan Lum Night Bazaar that was occupied by the red shirts on Thursday night. Protesters try to besiege the troops inside the night market, and smoke is spotted coming out from inside Lumpini Park.
12.30pm: The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration rejects police request for city officials to drag away a police truck set ablaze by protesters at Sala Daeng intersection, saying its officials would be under threat from the gunfire exchange.
1pm: Protesters burn car tyres opposite the Lumpini Boxing Stadium, about 100 metres from the Thai-Belgian Bridge. Sporadic gunfire is heard. A clash between security forces and protesters kills one man and injures 20 others, three of whom are journalists.
1.30pm: Protesters outside the boxing stadium attack security forces with slingshots and petrol bombs, while soldiers respond by firing several rounds in the air, followed by teargas and rubber bullets. Twenty protesters are arrested.
1.50pm: Protest leader Jatuporn Promphan announces on stage that the situation could lead to civil war.
2.30pm: Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd, spokesman of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation, tells the press that government forces have secured the area around the Thai-Belgian Bridge and set up road barricades on Wireless Road.
3pm: Reinforcements of troops are sent to guard Government House.
3.20pm: Troops and red shirts clash at Rajprarop intersection and there is noise of gunshots. Protesters retreat to the Pratunam intersection.
4.20pm: Red-shirt leader Natthawut Saikua calls on the government to order troop withdrawal and rescind the emergency decree.
4.25pm: Residents of Rajprarop Soi 4 and Soi 6 try to boo away red-shirt protesters, who are armed with petrol bombs and looking to confront soldiers.
4.30pm: Ruam Katanyu Foundation worker Sarayut Amphan is accidentally shot in the arm during a clash in Soi Ngam Duphli.
4.50pm: Protesters throw burning tyres from the Sala Daeng overpass at soldiers waiting at the foot of the bridge. Noise of gunshots and firecrackers is heard from the protesters' side, while soldiers fire into the air periodically.
5pm: There is a confrontation between both sides near Dusit Thani Hotel and the Thai-Belgian overpass. Burning tyres cover the area with smoke.
6pm: Two grenades, believed to have been launched using an M-79 grenade launcher, explode in Soi Sala Daeng and in front of the Dusit Thani Hotel. There are no reports of injuries.
6.20pm: Explosion is heard at the red-shirts' stage on Rajprasong intersection, as speakers jump down and tell protesters to duck. No injuries or deaths are reported and the cause of the explosion remains unknown.
6.40pm: An armoured vehicle moves into Sala Daeng intersection from Wireless Road. Protesters throw bottles, petrol bombs and lit firecrackers at troops.