Anti-Government protesters gathered at several strategically important sites in Bangkok today, hoping to either take over those sites or to perhaps intimidate the Government, and in particular Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, into stepping down.
I spent the morning and much of the afternoon photographing at Government House, symbolic and literal centre of the Thai Government.
When I arrived, protesters were gathering. This man was praying in the direction of a shrine. The barriers erected by police can be seen in the background.
The barrier is formed of reels of razor wire in-between sturdy, concrete barriers. The police formed lines behind the barriers.
A lone protester climbed the barricades and waved the Thai national flag.
Protesters walked up to the barrier and shouted abuse towards the police lines.
At the same time, the police were telling the protesters that they would not be allowed to pass and that they should retreat. This rhetoric inflamed the protesters, who continued to shout.
Members of the “Students and Citizens Network for Reform in Thailand” prepared to make an assault on the barricades, donning gas masks, air-filter masks, gloves and goggles (or natty mirror sunglasses).
Members of the “Students and Citizens Network for Reform in Thailand” paused for a prayer before marching towards the barriers protecting Government House.
A protester wearing what he proudly told me was a Second World War helmet points towards the police lines.
Meanwhile, other protesters prepared for their first assault on the barriers.
Shortly before 11am, as planned, protesters formed lines and began marching towards Government House.
Not everyone was equipped with protective clothing but that did not seem to diminish their enthusiasm.
Some protesters made their feelings about the police involvement unambiguously clear.
The police prepared for the potential assault by donning gas masks.
These three female protesters turned their backs towards the police to show their contempt.
The protesters approaching the barriers at Government House numbered in the thousands.
The police seemed fully prepared and continued to tell the protesters that they would not be allowed to enter the Government complex.
A vehicle equipped with towing chains was driven towards the barriers.
Whilst some protesters began to approach the barriers, others stayed back, looking on optimistically.
Police fired the first Tear Gas canister at 11:20, about 20 minutes after the protesters arrived at the barrier.
After a brief retreat, protesters began to physically drag one of the concrete barriers out of the way.
Then the vehicle was employed, easily dragging the first line of concrete barriers out of the way.
Barriers were removed, one by one.
As one of the final barriers in the first line of defence was removed, police fired a volley of tear gas, scattering protesters.
A protester affected by tear gas has water flushed into his eyes.
A protester closes his eyes after being affected by tear gas.
Although the main group of protesters had retreated, individual protesters would run towards the barricades and throw rocks or bottles. Many were thrown straight back by police.
A lone protester walked towards the barricades in an act of defiance when police began using two water cannons.
The pattern continued. Protesters would gain confidence and march towards the barricades, police would fire a volley of tear gas canisters and turn on the water cannons, protesters would retreat, many seeking treatment for eyes stinging from the affects of the tear gas.
Soaked with water from police water cannons and from their own water bottles, protesters form a line, ready for another march forward.
Some protesters would douse themselves with water before marching forward, hoping to counter the affects of the tear gas.
The police began firing tear gas canisters towards the protesters waiting on a side road. Most canisters were quickly kicked into the nearby canal or thrown back towards the police lines.
This protester tried and failed to remove a tear gas canister which fell near where he was standing.
One protester, who had somewhat inexplicably stripped down to his underpants, crouched behind the barrier and directed a fire extinguisher towards police.
He managed to retreat shortly before police directed water cannons in his direction.
A lone protester faced police lines, standing rebelliously in the line of the police water cannons.
The bloody hand of one man who was injured when police fired a tear gas canister.
Medics bandage the wounds of a man, who was injured when police fired a tear gas canister.
The man, fully conscious, was stretchered into a waiting ambulance, giving the “thumbs-up” as he was carried away.
Whenever there was a lull in police activity, the protesters would return, pulling on ropes attached to concrete barriers, in what appeared to be an optimistic hope of removing them.
More protesters would join the tug-of-war but were only allowed to remain for a few moments before police fired more tear gas, forcing the protesters to retreat.
Each time the tear gas canisters fell, the area in front of the barricades would clear, leaving just a few protesters, who would try to throw the canisters back in the direction of the police lines.
As protesters retreated, police began targeting the road alongside the Government complex, pushing the protesters further away from their goal.
Protesters crouched behind a line of bushes on the far side of a canal from the Government complex. Some threw bottles, others fired projectiles from slingshots.
Meanwhile, people waited further down the road with bottles of saline solution, ready to treat people affected by tear gas.
A lone protester wearing a gas mask walks through clouds of tear gas.
When I left Government House this afternoon, the cycle of advance and retreat punctuated by the explosive sound of tear gas canisters continued. The protesters did not seem any closer to achieving their stated aim of breaking through the barriers and occupying Government House.
Meanwhile, across Bangkok, protesters have gathered at several other locations and are still claiming that they want to take over Government buildings.
Anti-Government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has called for a general strike tomorrow (Monday) but, as I write this, the situation appears to be a stalemate.