Pheu Thai warns masked protesters

The Pheu Thai Party has warned anti-government groups, including the white-masked protesters, that the government will take legal action if their rallies turn violent.

"The government is concerned every time there are confrontations among members of the public, regardless of what colours or masks they wear," Pheu Thai deputy spokesman Anuson Iamsa-at said Saturday.

His statement followed Friday's clash between demonstrators in Guy Fawkes masks and a pro-government red shirt group in Chiang Mai.

The clashed occurred about 4.30pm, when 50 members of the white-mask movement gathered in front of a 7-Eleven on Nimanhemin Soi 13 in Muang district.

They were later confronted by about 100 members of the red shirt Khon Rak Chiang (People Who Love Chiang Mai) group.

The red shirts threw rubbish at the white-masked protesters and snatched a placard away from them that read "Bring down Thaksin regime". Fistfights then broke out between the two groups. Both sides later dispersed.

If such an incident were to happen again, the government would ensure that anyone who has broken the law would be punished, Mr Anusorn said.

White-masked protesters have so far showed no sign that they will stop their rallies.

About 10 of them gathered in front of Chiang Mai University briefly yesterday in a show of strength and then dispersed.

The group has reportedly agreed to hold only small rallies in Chiang Mai, a Pheu Thai stronghold, and take photos to post on the internet before dispersing in order to avoid a repeat of Friday's clash.

Police in Chiang Mai have been criticised for not stopping red shirt supporters from assaulting them on Friday. The incident upset white-mask sympathisers in Bangkok, who will gather in front of the Royal Thai Police Office today to mourn the "death" of the agency.

"We will mourn Chiang Mai police who have lost all sense of morality, fairness and democracy," the white mask group posted a message on Facebook.

The group will gather in over 10 provinces nationwide today from 5pm on.

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