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Clashes in Bangkok expected to intensify
Publication Date : 18-01-2014
The capital may see increasing violence in the coming days as anti-government protests continue
Thai Army Chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha believes it is possible that the campaign led by the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) leader Suthep Thaugsuban could stir up violence similar to that created by the so-called "men-in-black" during the 2010 political riots.
"A group of people is using violence because they think without it they will not achieve victory … Their methodology is the same as the one used in 2010, but I do not know if they are the same group," Prayuth said.
The army chief was speaking after clashes at the Thai-Japanese Stadium left a police officer and an anti-government protester dead. The media ran pictures of men-in-black on the rooftop of a building belonging to the Ministry of Labour.
Clashes also occurred between students at Ramkhamhaeng University and pro-government red shirts from November 30 to December 1.
Suthep took to the rally stage on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, and claimed that senior police and leaders of rival political camps were financing attacks against PDRC protesters.
Satit Wongnongtaey, a PDRC leader also referred to the so-called "Kalamae group" last Monday, saying it was believed that this group was heavily armed and responsible for creating violence. Some believe a woman leads the group.
Violence is likely to intensify after the 191 special task force, which set up a checkpoint on Sukhumvit Road, arrested three men and a woman with four grenades, a gun and ammunition. The arrests were made the same night that an M26 grenade was thrown into the grounds of Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva's house on Sukhumvit Soi 31.
Bangna police dismissed claims that the arrested suspects were involved in the attack, but PDRC leaders insist they were from the same group and have ties with the government camp. Unconfirmed reports allege that the number of weapons seized during the arrests was much larger than that reported in the press.
Security agencies have said a group of trained people equipped with resources is preparing to create violence at rally sites, and that they are supported by a logistics team that transports the weapons to their networks.
Preparations are also thought to be part of an anti-military coup movement. The group is allegedly assisted by some members of the police, who allegedly co-ordinate attacks from a 'safe house'. Illegal business operators are believed to be financing the operation.
However, National Security Council secretary-general Lieutenant General Paradorn Pattanatabut believes an ill-intentioned third-party may be responsible for the violence. He said the people involved disguise themselves as protesters. His agency is carrying out inquiries to find out who the group works for.