(18 February – latest update at 16.40) Contrary to previous reports, the policeman who had been shot near Phanfa Bridge is still alive.
The police previously launched the operation to disperse anti-government protesters from Ratchadamnoen Avenue earlier this morning, where the demonstrators have erected barricades and blocked traffic for weeks.
Gunfire was heard in the area at around noon time, and one policeman was shot in the head. Some explosions – believed to be M79 grenades – could also be heard near the police line, injuring a number of officers and causing the rest of the police force to withdraw from the confrontation and reform a new line.
The mood in the area is increasingly tense, our correspondent adds. Police officers and armed militants inside the protesters′ position were seen exchanging sporadic gunfire at each other.
Police authorities have previously claimed that a number of "hardcore" anti-government protesters are known to possess both homemade and high-grade firearms.
The Royal Thai Police initially released a statement confirming that the police officer wounded by the unidentified gunfire has died. He is named as Police Lance Corporal Pongsakorn Saengklom, a squad commander from Banglamung Police Station.
According to the police statement, 10 police officers are also wounded by the explosive attacks near the protesters′ barricades at Phanfa Bridge; two of the wounded officers are reportedly in severe condition.
Most of the injured officers are from Chonburi province, the police statement said, while the rest are from Chantaburi province.
However, our correspondent reported later in the evening that Pol.L.C. Pongsakorn is still alive under intensive care at a hospital, but his condition is described as "critical".
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