Thai protesters take police hostage

A spokesman from national police headquarters says a police colonel and a police major general are being held by supporters of Arisman Pongruangrong.


Arisman evaded arrest on Friday by climbing down the facade of the SC Park hotel on Bangkok’s northern outskirts using a rope.

He told supporters by megaphone he had escaped an assassination attempt – and that two police officers had been captured “to guarantee our safety”.

“He wanted to kill me. The policeman tried to kill me. My room 377 has two bombs in it,” Arisman told the assembled Red Shirts amid chaotic scenes outside the hotel.

Security operation

Special forces surrounded the building, where “terrorists” and leaders of the red-clad protest movement were hiding, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban announced.

But the government later admitted the security operation to arrest the leaders of the Thai anti-government protest movement had been “unsuccessful”.

“All of them got out from the hotel,” said anti-government activist Nattawut Saikuar, who was not at the hotel. “Our six core leaders are now with our Red people, who are bringing them back to this stage,” he said.

The authorities, meanwhile, urged thousands of protesters massed in the commercial district to leave the area, warning that they were ready to take “decisive measures” following the worst civil violence in almost two decades.

“Innocent people should leave the protests because the authorities have to take decisive measures against terrorists,” Suthep said.

Deadly clashes

“If today is the end, we’re ready,” Reds leader Nattawut Saikuar said from the rally stage in the commercial hub.

Arrest warrants have been issued for leaders of the Red Shirt protests, some of whom stormed parliament earlier this month.

The Reds claim the government is illegitimate because it came to power in 2008 after a court ousted exhiled ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s allies from power.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has blamed “terrorists” for inciting last weekend’s violent street clashes, which left at least 23 people dead and more than 800 wounded.

Saturday’s clashes erupted as the army tried unsuccessfully to clear an area in Bangkok’s old city, sparking street battles involving soldiers, red-clad protesters and unidentified gunmen described as “terrorists” by the government.