(18 February) The police have withdrawn from Ratchadamnoen Avenue where they had battled with anti-government protesters throughout the day.
The Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) has previously vowed to retake the area around the Avenue and Government House where supporters of the People′s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State (PCAD) have been occupying as their protest campsites for over a month.
However, after hours of gunfight and clashes between the riot police and PCAD protesters, the police eventually withdrew later in the afternoon, leaving the entire stretch of Ratchadamnoen Avenue in the protesters′ hands.
Two civilians and two policemen have been reportedly killed in the gunbattle.
Emboldened by the police retreat, large group of PCAD protesters surged forward from their position of Phan Fa bridge and vandalised a number of police vehicles left behind by the police force.
CMPO spokesman Tharit Pengdit said in a press conference that he is "gravely saddened" by the losses of lives today.
Mr. Tharit claimed the police conducted the operation to retake the area with great restraint and seek dialogues with the protesters at any opportunity, only to be targeted by armed militants allied to the protesters.
17 police officers have been injured by the attacks, Mr. Tharit said, adding that M79 grenades and unidentified types of firearms were used by the militants.
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