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Anti-government faction takes aim at premier and “aristocracy”
Protesters describe their campaign in revolutionary terms, and vow to shake up the aristocracy for the future of Thailand. “I kind of know we’ll lose this fight,” said Nuttanun Puntuwong, a 30-year-old business owner. “The people who are really behind everything, they’re too powerful. But if we lose, we’ll lose with honor.”
The mayhem in Pattaya kicked off after promises from Jakrapob to “ratchet the protests up a notch” if the Thai premier refused to resign.
Red shirts rushed the Royal Cliff Beach Hotel after a bizarre street melee that police were unable to tame. Warned that protesters would surround the resort come morning, about 200 men dressed in blue shirts — a previously unused hue in Thailand’s palette of color politics — camped out nearby with clubs and sticks.
The “blue shirts” offered little insight into their background, but announced their allegiance to Prem and their duty to guard world leaders from the approaching mob. The two groups clashed in a brief but wild street fight near the resort.
The masked men lobbed glass bottles at protesters, followed by some sort of smoke bomb that sent clouds of bright green smoke billowing over the combatants. A string of explosions — possibly fireworks or homemade bombs — sounded during the fight and the blue shirts, outnumbered, fled.
The red shirts later overran the resort as soldiers idled outside. Claiming victory after the summit’s collapse, many protesters have returned to Bangkok to regroup at the premier’s compound, where Thaksin has again phoned in to cheer them on.
"It's up to the leaders to instruct us,” said Nuttanun, the business owner. “If they want us to push on, we'll push on. If they want us to go home, we'll go home."
Pailin Wedel contributed to this report from Pattaya.
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