Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Red-Shirts Crushed by Tanks and Snipers

Protest encampment in central Bangkok seized after ferocious combat

Red-shirts leaders surrender. Violence still reported in the capital city and provinces. Curfew to be imposed. A climate of civil war : Bangkok Post newspaper evacuated, Thai stock exchange partly on fire, Bangkok's Central World Mall on fire, parts of Bangkok hit by power failure

Army tanks, troops and police invaded the red-shirts camp downtown Bangkok on Wednesday. A curfew is to be imposed across Bangkok on Wednesday night, as gunfire and combat continue in the Thai capital, defense minister General Prawit Wongsuwon announced.

Warnings had been issued prior to the military offensive against anti-government protesters in the capital. Thai soldiers with armored vehicles stormed the camp occupied since March 14th, near Silom road and Lumpini park, forcing shopping district, foreign hotels and shops to close.

After days of clashes in Bangkok, at least four people have been killed, including the Italian photojournalist Fabio Polenghi, and dozens wounded, including journalists, as demonstrators and army units exchange fire. Troops have gained control of an area south of the site and some protesters have fled, the government added that the security operation would be continuing all day. It insists talks are only possible if the protesters leave the streets.

The troops' move followed six days of clashes around the camp, triggered by a government operation to seal the area and the subsequent death of renegade general who backed the protests. In a separate development, ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra warned that "a military crackdown can spread resentment and these resentful people will become guerrillas".

Building a reconciliation road-map after the crackdown on the protesters and the military influence over the country's administration will give no chance of an amnesty for Thaksin. Global community calls for amnesty and clemency from the Thai government and military.

Sources: Bangkok Post, Nation, Tan, agencies, Reporter's notes.

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