A Thai Red Shirt protester seeks cover after fueling a burning pile of tires - Andy Nelson / Getty Images
More Casualties in Thailand as Clashes between Protesters and Government Security Forces Continue to Escalate
Protests in Thailand turned violent Friday, a day after a dissident general associated with the protesters was shot during a news interview. Reuters reports that ten people have been killed since yesterday in a shopping area in Bangkok and 125 injured after troops fired live rounds as well as tear gas and rubber bullets.
Thai military forces detain an anti-government protester during street clashes on Friday, May 14, in Bangkok- Andy Nelson / Getty Images
That brings the number to 22 killed in clashes to over three days, with 172 injured; at least three people were allegedly shot in the head by snipers. The army says it will not move in on the protesters’ main camp for now and will allow them to leave peacefully. The protesters support the ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in a coup.
Anti-government demonstrators set fire to a police bus Friday, May 14 near Lumpini Park in downtown Bangkok - Sakchai Lalit / AP Photo
Army Declares 'Live-Fire Zone' in Bangkok
With riot violence worsening, officials have designated an area of Bangkok a "live fire zone," as bullets and grenades fly. Six people were killed Saturday as anti-government protesting in Bangkok escalated into a "live-fire zone," according to the Thai military.
Thai soldiers walk and watch for anti-government snipers Friday, May 14 near Bangkok's Lumpini Park - Sakchai Lalit / AP Photo
The soldiers are using guns, grenades, barricades, and sharpshooters to try to contain the protesters, known as Red Shirts, who are using petrol bombs, stones, guns, homemade rockets, slingshots and firecrackers.
An anti-government protester launches a firecracker at Thai military forces with a slingshot. Government officials declared one Bangkok neighborhood a "Live Fire Zone" on Saturday - Andy Nelson / Getty Images
The Red Shirts, mostly from poor, farming, and working-class communities, say the government is illegitimate and are calling for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to resign.
Thai soldiers fire shotguns and rifles into a crowd of anti-government protesters hurling rocks on Friday in Bangkok - Wally Santana / AP Photo
The turmoil has paralyzed parts of Bangkok; up until today's action the soldiers avoided the neighborhood where protesters were encamped.
Thai soldiers arrest anti-government demonstrators in downtown Bangkok on Friday, May 14 - Vincent Yu / AP Photo
An anti-government protester carries a blood covered helmet of a fireman who was shot in the head on Saturday - Wong Maye-E / AP Photo
The chaos is an indication of the declining power of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who once had the power to unify Thailand but has been largely silent since the conflict began—a disappointment to many Thais. The king was able to soothe conflicts in 1973 and 1992, but , experts say the king's lack of action this time indicates the collapse of the monarchy's ability to stitch together a consensus.
A "Red Shirt" anti-government protester waves a national flag during clashes with Thai soldiers in Bangkok on Friday - Nicolas Asfouri, AFP / Getty Images
Thirty five people have been killed since April in the latest unrest.
When you go to your local Thai restaurant this weekend, remember: your hosts are most likely first generation immigrants to this country. They have friends and relatives back home involved in this tragedy. Show some respect.
- Sean Linnane