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Thai police attempt to reclaim protest sites in Bangkok

English.news.cn   2014-02-14 13:42:54

BANGKOK, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- As Thais are celebrating the western Valentine's Day and traditional Buddhist holiday Maka Bucha Day on Friday, Thai police started from the morning to reclaim a number of rally sites in the capital Bangkok, sparking fears of possible violence and bloodsheds after days of relative peace.

Around 500 police officers in body armors and helmets arrived in vans at a rally site near the Government Complex at around 9:30 a.m. local time, forming a standoff with protesters encamped there.

The police marched slowly towards protesters while holding shields in front of them, and protesters whistled and yelled back at the police, urging them to step back.

At one moment, an explosion sound was heard, causing chaos among both sides, but no injuries have been reported. A man was later detained by the police, whose identity is yet to be disclosed.

A leading police officer kept talking to the protesters using a loud speaker, asking them to calm down and reassuring them the police would exercise restraint with no intention to hurt them.

The streets were cleared, and what remained left were only police vans and press photographers. A flower store by the roadside provided shelter for several pedestrians.

The 50-year-old owner, who is opposed to the caretaker government herself, served water and fruit to these pedestrians and told them not to go out to avoid confrontation with the police.

"We Thais are nice people, but the police are not," she said.

The owner closed the store temporarily, but did not cancel the delivery of booked flowers.

At around 11:30 a.m., the police began to retreat, and the spokesman claimed they would come back on Saturday.

Xinhua reporters at another rally site near the Government House saw the police remain in a standoff with the protesters.

Secretary-general of the National Security Council of Thailand Paradorn Pattanatbut earlier said the government would enforce the law to reclaim some of the rally sites not being used by protesters to facilitate the traffic.

But no force would be used, Paradorn added.

On Friday morning, caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra traveled to central Ayutthaya province to pay respect at a temple to mark the Buddhist holiday, and she received moral support from scores of people.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban earlier called major rallies from Friday to Sunday at all rally sites to oust Yingluck, including a Valentine's Day-themed rally featuring music and dancing on Friday.

It is reported that protesters started to decorate rally stages with roses and ornaments from the morning.

Editor: Yang Yi
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