Thai Military Move to Confront Protesters After Day of Clashes
By Daniel Schearf
13 April 2009

Thai soldiers are moving towards anti-government protesters in the Thai capital who have been demonstrating outside the main government compound. Earlier in the day, thousands of protesters clashed with soldiers, setting fire to buses and hurling stones and firebombs.

Thai protesters and government troops face-off in Bangkok, 13 Apr 2009

There have been reports of gunfire as soldiers moved into the area near government house, where Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has his offices.

Protesters have been camped around the compound since late March, demanding the government resign.

Earlier in the day a protest speaker at the demonstration camp claimed that soldiers had killed more than six demonstrators during the day's clashes.

"But, they took away the dead body. They would like to get rid of the evidence. We didn't find the dead body until now," the speaker said.

The Thai government issued a statement denying anybody had been killed, but saying around 70 people were injured.

The statement said the Thai Government was doing its utmost to restore peace and order and bring the situation back to normal as soon as possible.

Thai soldiers detain an anti-government protester following clashes in Bangkok, Thailand, 13 Apr 2009.

The government and military have promised weapons will only be used in self defense.

Monday afternoon, Thai soldiers fired shots in the air to warn off protesters throwing stones, boards and water bottles at firefighters.

The demonstrators had set fire to piles of tires and buses, rolling the vehicles towards lines of soldiers holding riot shields and machine guns.

In other parts of Bangkok, soldiers fired tear gas and protesters hurled firebombs.

Protesters and soldiers took turns pushing towards each other then retreating.

Thousands of red-clad demonstrators converged on Bangkok for what is expected to be a final push to force new elections.

The demonstrators, known as the "red shirts", are supported by exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted from power in a 2006 military coup.

The lack of security and instability has embarrassed the Thai government. A weekend meeting of Southeast Asian and other world leaders had to be canceled after protesters broke through security, forcing their evacuation.