Thai anti-government demonstrators fire shots at government supporters as the rival sides clash in Bangkok.
Shots fired as Thai factions clash
BANGKOK // Thai anti-government demonstrators fired shots at government supporters as the rival sides clashed this afternoon on a major highway in the Thai capital of Bangkok. The fighting began when government supporters began throwing rocks at a truck carrying members of the People's Alliance for Democracy as it was returning from Bangkok's old airport, where the group had been holding a rally. The airport has served as temporary government headquarters since the alliance occupied the prime minister's office in late August. The anti-government group responded by firing slingshots and at least two pistols from their truck, then gave chase to the attackers, who appeared to number several dozen, according to footage shown on television. The gunmen fired about half a dozen shots. The men on the truck appeared by their dress, camouflage clothes and yellow armbands, to be among the so-called guards working for the alliance, who have earned a reputation for aggressive behaviour. They also hoisted a portrait of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Thailand's revered monarch, for whose interests they claim to be working. The alliance has previously denied they carry guns, though reporters have seen them carrying and shooting firearms at earlier confrontations. The footage showed anti-government supporters surrounding a motorcycle taxi driver and putting a knife to his throat. After the driver fled, the protesters hit several motorbikes with steel rods and set fire to another one. he two sides are fairly easy to distinguish, since the protest alliance favors yellow shirts and their rivals, red. Some of the government supporters seen fleeing were wearing red shirts. The Narenthorn Medical Center said four people were taken to the hospital. The pro-government crowd appeared to be members of a loose association of taxi drivers who support the government and are supporters of the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The People's Alliance for Democracy opposed the current government, because it considers it to be a puppet of Thaksin, who was accused of corruption and abuse of power and deposed in a September 2006 military coup. During the brief skirmish, neither police nor any other security forces intervened. *AP