Sunday, May 16, 2010


At least 17 people were killed in clashes between police and Red Shirt protesters in Thailand on Saturday. Tensions still running high Saturday, with protesters yelling and screaming as they stood behind barricades of tires, spikes and bamboo poles. The Thai capital has become an urban fortress under siege and beset by gunfire, tear gas and stone-throwing that boiled over after Thai authorities set a new deadline to seal off the Bangkok intersection where protesters have gathered by the thousands for the past month. Thai troops are clashing with anti-government protesters in the capital Bangkok; on a third day of violence that has killed at least 17 people. Plumes of smoke are rising from sections of the city Centre, where the protesters, who want the prime minister to resign, are barricaded in a camp. Some 150 people have been injured since violence broke out in the Thai capital on Thursday evening. Troops have set up roadblocks to prevent further protesters from entering the camp. On Friday, troops fired live rounds, tear gas and rubber bullets in clashes with the protesters, who threw petrol bombs and stones at the soldiers. Violence escalated on Thursday after a renegade general who supports the protests was shot in the head by an unknown gunman. Explosions and sporadic gunfire can be heard around the protest site in central Bangkok despite the fact that the government says the situation is under control. Barricades of types are still burning. In some places police and telephone boxes have been attacked. But in other areas the protestors are camped outside smart hotels and shopping centers where no damage has been done. Some parts of the city center look like a day old-war zone with small groups of protestors still harassing troops. Authorities have ruled out negotiations with the red-shirt protesters. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged both protesters and the authorities to avoid further violence. His office said he "strongly encourages them to urgently return to dialogue in order to de-escalate the situation and resolve matters peacefully". The US has also urged restraint and encouraged the two sides "to find a way to work peacefully through these differences". The Thai government says the situation is under control and insists its soldiers have only fired in self-defense. The Bangkok authorities have cut off water and electricity to the camp in a renewed effort by the government to reclaim the city Centre after a two-month stand-off. Around a third of the city is now under emergency rule, but while there are pockets of fighting in that area, life beyond the barricades seems to be going on as normal, correspondents say. The protesters want Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve parliament and call fresh elections.


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