Pro-democracy and anti-government protesters in Thailand are withdrawing from their barricaded camp in Bangkok to avoid further deaths and bloodshed following the vicious military assault on them.
Thai soldiers with armoured vehicles stormed the camp this morning, and say the 'containment' operation will continue all day.
At least four people have been killed, including an Italian photo-journalist, and dozens wounded as demonstrators and the army clashed violently.
A large number of the protesters are peaceful, but some have responded to the military force used by government troops with handguns and missiles.
The confrontation and the 'red shirt' protest has been going on for days.
Earlier this morning (18 May 2010), soldiers gained control of an area south of the site.
"Some protesters have fled," a government spokesperson claimed. But the BBC report an intentional withdrawal.
"The government is using massive repression and there will be more deaths and serious injuries. That is why we are pulling back, because we value life", a demonstrator told independent journalists by phone.
Human rights groups have condemned the actions of Thailand's rulers, but have also said that violence by some protesters has worsened the situation and have urged an end to direct confrontation.