So the Red Shirt problem just came to the end of our driveway you might say. We stay on Sathorn Road just about 700 meters from the southeast corner of the Red Shirt area. We crossed the street to grab a coffee and noticed troops in formation halfway down the road toward the Thai-Belgian bridge where protestors had attacked and taken some military vehicles.
Bystanders shouted spontaneously “Kill them!” A couple Thai reporters waited in the shade. An angry bystander came over bellowing expletives at them. “Who are you? Are you police or reporters? For a newspaper?” He snorted. “You’re lucky you aren’t police. If you were police I was going to curse at you.”
We heard a couple of explosions which assured us these troops were not just guarding an escape route but about to engage. Coffee = bad idea. We stopped in our tracks and watched a moment and before we took three steps, the troops had arrived at the intersection. Bursts of gunfire, a bit of tear gas rose up beyond. The spectators who had just been shouting things to the troops such as “Kill them!” became a lot less aggressive and backed up down the walk. That’s when a line of humvees raced back on the opposite side toward us. Troops were up and armed and… firing shots?!? The crowd really scrambled now. It appeared as if they were (and haven’t we heard this before?) firing in all directions and at unarmed crowds. Obviously this is not what was happening. My theory is blanks fired to disperse crowd as they ran to set up in a support or fall back position at Soi Saladaeng. If their intention was to make people clear out, it worked. Probably cleared out a few GI tracts as well. We took shelter behind the building across from home. Shops which were remarkably open were now making a pretty quick decision to close. Folks scrambled out of the building and the shutters were coming down. After a few moments we ventured back to Sathorn where blockades were going up but people were cautiously returning to gawk. We ran back across and headed for home. The troops remain on alert below our building.
On TV we see troops have taken the Thai-Belgian bridge, but we have reports of a car being burned on Wireless Road in front of the US Embassy and another enclave of Red Shirts separated now from Lumpini, likely driven away from the bridge, and set up in front of a PTT station near the boxing stadium on Rama IV. Tires are burning. Troops are set up in a line holding the bridge.