RATCHAPRASONG, APRIL 25, 2010: United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) protesters in Bangkok today swapped their trademark red clothing for clothing of many colors ahead of a massive securty crackdown expected to commence in the early hours of Monday morning.
As tens of thousands of democracy supporters flocked to the Ratchaprasong rallying point dressed in normal street wear, large bundles of clothes were delivered to the stage by red-shirt sympathizers for distribution to those with only red clothes.
At the same time tens of thousands of police from all corners of the country were converging on Bangkok, reportedly armed with shotguns, in preparation for what protest leaders have been told will be a massive crackdown commencing around dawn tomorrow morning.
By early evening UDD leaders had received information that a huge force of almost 90,000 police and soldiers had been assembled for a massive final crackdown attempt.
At his evening media briefing core UDD leader Jatuporn Prompan said 214 units of soldiers had been positioned close to the Ratchaprasong intersection in preparation to dispersing the protesters.
Mr. Jatuporn said the government has assembled a massive force of “more than 40,ooo soldiers and 44,000 police” to crackdown on the red-shirts, with information indicating the police will be the first wave of security forces to move against the protesters, with the army bringing up the rear.
UDD co-leader Natthawut Saikua told protesters the decision to change out of their distinctive red clothing was based on information that more than 200 Thai soldiers were patrolling Bangkok on motorbikes mimicking the brutal tactics of the Iranian Basji, confronting red-shirt supporters traveling to or from the Ratchaprasong rally site and beating them.
For photographs of red-shirt protesters receiving multi-color clothing see: Red-shirt protest photos from April 25, 2010
RATCHAPRASONG, APRIL 25, 2010: The driver of a BTS Skytrain has told police investigating the fatal M79 grenade attack on the Sala Daeng BTS station that he saw rocket propelled grenades fired from the Robinson Department Store building.
The man, Narong Panpetch, was driver of a BTS Skytrain traveling between Sala Daeng and Ratchadamri stations and is said to have told investigators that he saw “flashes come from upper floor windows” of the landmark department store building. A women, whose identity has not been released, is also reported to have told investigators she saw the same thing, just seconds before the grenades struck.
A senior police officer sympathetic to the red-shirt movement has told RedPhanFa2Day that five men were apprehended by police shortly after the deadly bombings that killed one person and injured more than 70 others and taken to the Lumpini Park police station.
The officer, who requested his name and rank not be revealed, was not able to reveal the names of the men detained and was unsure whether they were still being held at the police station or not.
The officer also said police close to Sala Daeng BTS station saw two other men in plain clothes break through military lines, throw grenades and then disappear back behind the troops in Silom Road at the same time. He said police who attempted to pursue and apprehend the men were prevented from doing so by the uniformed troops.
Today is day 43 of the red-shirts pro-democracy protest against the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and the 23 rd day protesters have occupied the Ratchaprasong shopping precinct in the heart of Bangkok.