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In Bangkok tonight, anti-government protesters and soldiers remain locked in an ugly standoff.
Young Thais, faces cloaked with bandanas, are chucking molotov cocktails at troops. Small caliber bullet holes are punched through street signs. Old tires are set aflame and rolled toward troop positions and barbed wire is strung across what should be busy thoroughfares.
While most of the city remains untouched, there's a sense of anarchy in the streets surrounding protesters' core encampment in central Bangkok. Daylight clashes have left five dead and roughly 80 wounded, bringing the nine week struggle's total death toll to around 35. As serious injuries deteriorate into deaths inside ICU wards, that number may very well rise.
Shortly after sunset, I waded into the stand-off from the side controlled by protesters. The mob of men armed with slingshots and bombs — concocted on the spot with gasoline and spent energy drink bottles — had turned a bank's ATM alcove into their staging grounds.
As you'll hear in the video, explosions and gunfire — seemingly from the soldiers' position several hundred meters away — would erupt intermittently.
With each attack, protesters would scoop up bullet casings from the asphalt. It's difficult to tell whether soldiers were firing rubber/plastic shells or live rounds while I was there. But buildings were flecked with what appeared to be pockmarks from live rounds.
When the shooting intensified, the men began breaking down pavement stones to replenish their slingshot ammo. All of those rocks weren't meant for troops. Some were aimed at streetlights to conceal the men's movements.
Here's a group of men assembling molotov cocktails...
... and the aftermath of a burning tire rolled toward soldiers.
Militarily speaking, there's clearly no way this mob can put down whole army battalions with assault rifles and armed personnel carriers. But their drive to agitate and wound the military — among the symbols of power these self-proclaimed "commoners" are hellbent on overcoming — seems limitless.
There is every reason to expect more bloodshed in Bangkok tonight, tomorrow and likely into the next few days.