Violent clashes between anti-government protesters and police resumed around the Din Daeng intersection on Sunday evening to round off the biggest day yet of “car mob” rallies.
Some of the protesters riding motorcycles and cars arrived at the intersection after joining the car mob rallies which converged at key locations including the Ratchaprasong and Lat Phrao intersections.
Around 5pm, a group of mostly young protesters broke away from the main parade rallies and gathered at Din Daeng intersection where confrontations with police have occurred over the past week.
It was reported that bricks and giant firecrackers were thrown at crowd control officers who were using large cargo containers stacked up as a line of defence in the area near where Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha lives.
Fifteen minutes later the police responded by firing tear gas and water cannons at the advancing protesters which forced a brief retreat before they were able to regroup.
At the same time, a fire was detected underneath the Din Daeng expressway.
Red-shirt leader Nattawut Saikuar, who co-organised Sunday’s car mob rallies, arrived at the scene amid boos and jeers as he tried in vain to persuade the protesters to go home.
Earlier in the day, Mr Saikuar promised the movement’s wider rallies would be peaceful. He also said protesters would avoid confrontations with police and stay away from politically sensitive places, including Government House and the prime minister’s residence.
The largest “car mob” rallies to date choked up roads in Bangkok and other provinces on Sunday as the protesters took to their vehicles as part of a three-pronged campaign organised by Mr Saikuar and red shirt activist Sombat Boonngam-anong.
There were also linked protest events in Ayutthaya, Prachin Buri, Pathum Thani, Kanchanaburi, Khon Kaen, Lampang, Lamphun and Chiang Mai.
The coalition of protest groups have all accused the government of gross mishandling of the third COVID-19 outbreak.
Mr Saikuar, backed by protesters and members of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, led a convoy at Ratchaprasong intersection.
Mr Boonngam-anong headed another parade from Ayutthaya to Lat Phrao intersection and another group, the Tha Lu Fah, assembled at Democracy Monument.
National police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk said once again that crowd control was in line with international standards, and prior warnings were issued.
“Police take precautions to avoid injuries. Compared with crowd control operations executed in other countries, our approach is lighter,” he said.