BANGKOK -- Red-shirted protesters hurled plastic bags filled with their own blood into the residential compound of Thailand's prime minister Wednesday, hoping their shock tactics will bring down his government.
Several thousand later gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy, saying they wanted to tell the international community that their government was illegitimate. A protest leader, Jatuporn Prompan, went into the embassy compound, where he said he talked with U.S. diplomats.
Riot police first blocked all approaches to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's walled compound. But after negotiations, three dozen demonstrators were allowed to squeeze through the police cordon carrying about six 1.3-gallon plastic bottles filled with blood, which was poured into small plastic bags and then hurled at the home, smearing the walls, roof and grounds in red.
The incident in the Sukhumvit Road area, home to many wealthy Thais and expatriates, followed similar "blood sacrifices" Tuesday at Abhisit's office and the headquarters of his Democrat Party. The dramatic acts grabbed attention, but put the "Red Shirt" protest movement no closer to its goal of forcing new elections.
The protesters' march to Abhisit's house and police cordons, thrown up after the government invoked an emergency decree, halted traffic in one direction on Sukhumvit Road, a major thoroughfare, paralyzing parts of the neighborhood. Restaurants closed their doors and residents of luxury condos were prevented from driving out of the area.
Abhisit himself has been sleeping at an army headquarters and taking trips out of the city since the demonstrations began.
"We heard they were coming so I stayed in. Sure enough we're blocked in now," said John Bujnosh, a Texas oil driller who lives on the same street as Abhisit.
More than 100,000 demonstrators, including many from the poor northeast and north, gathered in Bangkok on Sunday, vowing to continue their protest until victory. But Abhisit has rejected their demands to dissolve Parliament, saying only that he will listen to the protesters and leaving the situation in a stalemate.
The protesters consist of supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a 2006 military coup for alleged corruption, and pro-democracy activists who opposed the army takeover. They believe Abhisit came to power illegitimately with the connivance of the military and other parts of the traditional ruling class.
Thaksin, who lives overseas to escape a two-year jail sentence for abuse of power, remains widely popular among the poor who are grateful for the cheap medical care, low-interest loans and other measures his government enacted to reduce poverty.
On Tuesday, thousands of Red Shirts formed long lines to have their blood drawn by nurses to spill at Government House, the prime minister's office. Leaders claimed to have collected 80 gallons (300,000 cubic centimeters).
A few teaspoons of blood were drawn from each volunteer and then transferred into dozens of large plastic water jugs.
"The blood of the common people is mixing together to fight for democracy," Red Shirt leader Natthawut Saikua told cheering supporters. "When Abhisit works in his office, he will be reminded that he is sitting on the people's blood." Abhisit has not entered his office at Government House since preliminary protests started on Friday.
Hundreds of protesters then marched and rode pickup trucks and motorcycles to the nearby ruling Democrat Party headquarters and splashed several more jugs of blood on the pavement outside.
Surat Horachaikul, a political scientist at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, said he believed the protest organizers lacked plans for their next step and that the protests might end in a few days.
"If nothing comes out of this rally, the government is likely going to become more stable," he said.
Despite continued anxiety over possible violence, the Stock Exchange of Thailand and Thai baht currency have remained stable.
Many Bangkok residents say they are tired of the years of turmoil that have hurt the economy.
"I want the protest to stop as soon as possible. My business would be better, I hope," said Suwan Pana-ngham, a downtown food vendor.
But other Bangkok residents cheered the protesters as they marched along Sukhumvit Road and approached Abhisit's house.
"I sneaked out of the office (to support the protesters)," said Chavalita Nittayasomboon, a 29-year-old company employee. "These people represent the majority of Thais. They might not be educated, but they have their dreams of having a better quality of life."