Skip to main content

Thai police confront protesters in push to seize Bangkok demonstration sites

By Kocha Olarn and Tim Hume, CNN
updated 3:02 AM EST, Fri February 14, 2014
Thai security forces prepare for confrontation at a protest site near a government complex in Bangkok.
Thai security forces prepare for confrontation at a protest site near a government complex in Bangkok.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Thai police and protesters faced off Friday as authorities tried to clear protest sites
  • Parts of Bangkok have been occupied since November
  • Authorities regained some of the area held by protesters near Government House
  • They vowed to return tomorrow to try again

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) -- Thousands of Thai riot police faced off against anti-government demonstrators in Bangkok Friday as they attempted to seize sites occupied by protesters for months.

Security forces only succeeded in narrowing the areas held by protesters in some parts of the city, but vowed to return to continue their efforts Saturday. The stand-offs passed without serious violence, although a journalist sustained minor injuries when a protester near Government House threw a firecracker.

Demonstrators opposed to the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra have been camped out since November at sites including Government House -- the office of the prime minister and appointed cabinet ministers -- and the government complex in the Chaengwattana area of Bangkok's suburbs.

But Lt. Gen. Paradon Patthanathabut, Thailand's national security chief, told CNN that enough was enough.

Life in Bangkok amidst political chaos
Protesters vow to continue to protest
CNN producer caught in a gunfight
Understanding the Thai protests

"Public sentiment now is 'That's enough.' It has gone beyond peaceful protest," he said.

The protesters' actions were blocking public access to government services, making intervention by authorities necessary, he said.

"We are going to enforce the law against protesters in certain areas."

While security forces succeeded in seizing only some of the territory held by protesters, he said they would be back tomorrow.

"We have withdrawn our forces and will go back there again tomorrow," said Paradon. "We were there to express our seriousness that we have to retake the area, (or) at least open up the roads for public."

He said he did not expect events to turn violent, saying his approach was to attempt negotiations before sending in teams to retake the area.

READ MORE: After disrupting Thailand elections, protesters vow to continue

Protesters have been calling for the ouster of Yingluck, whom they allege is a puppet of her billionaire brother, the deposed, exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The protests were sparked in November by her government's attempt to pass an amnesty bill, that would have paved the way for her brother's return to the political fray in earnest.

Yingluck called general elections on February 2 in an attempt to bring an end to the crisis. But the opposition Democrat Party boycotted the polls and protesters blocked officials from gathering ballots and obstructed voter registration in many constituencies.

Thailand's Constitutional Court ruled this week that there were insufficient grounds to consider a petition filed by lawyer Wiratana Kalayasiri, a former MP for the Democrat Party, seeking the annulment of the elections.

READ MORE: Trapped in a gunfight -- CNN producer's harrowing account of Thai election violence

READ MORE: Thai elections -- the politics of crisis

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Thailand's political protests
updated 9:54 AM EDT, Fri March 21, 2014
Court rules February election breached a law requiring that the polling process be completed on the same day.
updated 6:07 AM EDT, Wed March 19, 2014
A 60-day state of emergency imposed on Bangkok and several surrounding areas comes to an end.
updated 5:11 AM EST, Thu February 27, 2014
Visitors should not to wear solid red-colored clothes or buy T-shirts that say "Popcorn Army" -- the two most volatile images identifying each side.
updated 2:20 AM EST, Tue February 25, 2014
Thailand's army chief said the military -- one of Thailand's most powerful institutions -- would not step into the current political crisis.
updated 7:00 PM EST, Thu February 20, 2014
What's going on and why? CNN's explainer gives you the background story to the deadly unrest in Thailand.
updated 3:11 PM EST, Mon February 24, 2014
Two young children were killed in a grenade attack in Bangkok. Saima Mohsin spoke with the victims distraught family.
updated 1:07 AM EST, Fri February 21, 2014
The Thai government is now promising payment for rice subsidy program, after thousands of farmers rode into Bangkok on tractors to protest.
updated 7:00 PM EST, Thu February 20, 2014
A Thai police officer was killed after he was shot in the head during clashes Tuesday between anti-government protesters and police in Bangkok.
updated 10:15 PM EST, Mon February 3, 2014
After disrupting a national election, Thai anti-government protesters have vowed to keep up their campaign against the Prime Minister.
updated 9:55 PM EST, Sat February 1, 2014
Anti-government protesters in Thailand succeeded in getting Sunday's national elections delayed in the Bangkok district of Laksi.
updated 12:31 AM EST, Sun February 2, 2014
A state of emergency, streets paralyzed with protesters, the fatal shooting of a leading pro-government activist -- what's going on?
updated 11:23 AM EST, Sun January 26, 2014
Thai anti-government protesters shut down a polling station at the Srieam Anusorn school in Bangkok on January 26, 2014.
An anti-government protest leader was shot to death Sunday as demonstrators blocked a voting station in Bangkok, police said.
updated 6:48 AM EST, Thu January 16, 2014
Pacific Asia Travel Association CEO says Thailand protests, although not widespread, are impacting the tourism sector.
updated 12:19 AM EST, Thu December 5, 2013
Thailand's deeply revered king asked the nation to maintain the peace it has enjoyed "for a very long time" by working hand in hand.
updated 12:57 PM EST, Wed November 27, 2013
"We have three colors --blue white and red together -- not red, not yellow," says a protester amid anti-government demonstrations in Bangkok.
updated 11:18 PM EST, Tue November 26, 2013
In order to understand the turbulent world of Thai politics, you have to start with one name: Thaksin Shinawatra.
ADVERTISEMENT