Analysts’ View: Thai protest leaders surrender
May 19, 2010 by Post Team
Analysts’ View: Thai protest leaders surrender:Protesters torched at least five buildings, including the Exchange of Thailand and Central World, the second largest in Southeast Asia warehouse complex, and attacked a local television station Channel 3 as riots throughout the city of 15 million people.
About 100 employees of the television station were trapped on the roof of the skyscraper and most have been for the rescue helicopters, said local media ..
Everything was in typically animated district of Sukhumvit Road, an area full of tourists and high-end residential complex, just hours after the army said the situation in which thousands of demonstrators against the government was under control.
The Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva a curfew imposed in Bangkok on Wednesday from 8 pm (1300 GMT) until 6 am Thursday (2300 GMT Wednesday) The curfew – the instructions that were read national television – was designed to allow security authorities fulfill their duty, in order Vejjajiva said.
Chaos followed the military operation in the morning in which soldiers in armored vehicles and advanced shooting semiautomatic weapons in an area occupied for over six weeks by thousands of “red shirts” demonstrators.
As they surrounded the main protest site, the main protest leaders offered to surrender, and urged supporters to fight, many screaming and crying like gunshots rang out nearby.
Moments later, live television showed four “red shirt” protest leaders in police custody and an army spokesman said in a television broadcast the protest site was under control of the army and the military had stopped operations.
But that did not stop the riots after six days of chaotic street battles between protesters and troops descended into urban warfare, killing 41 people and wounding over 330.
Minutes later surrendered, three grenades exploded outside the main protest site, badly wounding two soldiers and a foreign journalist, a Reuters witness. The unrest has been seen in five areas of the city as protesters set on fire and burned tires. Some hotels put up barricades of wood.
Several media organizations like The Nation and The Bangkok Post office evacuated after a threat of the protesters, accusing them of biased reporting.
“The situation is now worse than expected and is very difficult to stop,” said Kave Chukitsakem, head of research, Kasikorn Securities. “After the leaders gave a red shirt, things were out of control. It’s like insects flying around from one place to another, causing irritation. Do not know who they are and why they are doing this.”
The violence spreads
Violence also spread to Northeast Thailand, a stronghold of red shirt, where protesters took by assault a city hall complex in Udon Thani, the establishment of a burning building and set fire to a second city hall Khon Kaen.
The rioting was reported in three other provinces.
Three journalists were among 50 people wounded and a Western journalist, identified as an Italian, was killed.
Troops and armored vehicles broke through the demonstrators from three meters (10ft) of barricades of tires and bamboo, and fired tear gas and automatic rifle fire on the demonstrators.
Two bodies were found on Ratchadamri Road, which leads to the main protest site after troops of the army followed the vehicle in the camp, a Reuters witness. They seem to have been shot. The “red shirts” returned fire, witnesses said.
The protesters turned on the walls of the tires when the troops arrived, causing thick black smoke high above the waves hide the skyscrapers and thousands of demonstrators who have occupied the heart of Bangkok’s business district for more than six weeks.
The demonstrators mostly rural and urban poor largely support the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a billionaire populist convicted of graft ousted in a coup in 2006 and been living in self-imposed exile in order to avoid jail.
Thaksin raised the specter of insurrection in a telephone interview with Reuters on Wednesday. “There is a theory saying a military crackdown may spread resentment and resentment of these people will become guerrillas,” he said, but declined to say where he was talking about.
“For investors, that will take years to give credibility to the country.” The market fundamentals are not the same any more, “said Kongkiat Opaswongkarn, head of Asia Plus Securities.
The military offensive came a day after the collapse of a proposal for talks aimed at ending five days of chaotic street fighting down to urban warfare.
The red shirts accuse the British-born, Oxford-educated Abhisit lacking a popular mandate after coming to power in a controversial parliamentary vote in 2008 with the tacit backing of the military. They have demanded immediate elections.
The troops in recent days had released a string around the protest site, a “tent city” at the intersection Rachaprasong, paralyzing the heart of Bangkok. Hundred women and children took refuge in a temple in the protest zone.
The protesters had been stockpiling food, water and supplies in the camp since Thursday, when the assassination of an important ally in general the red shirts, and an army operation to pressure, triggered the latest wave of violence that has killed 68 people and wounded more than 1,700 since the demonstrations began in mid-March.
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