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Mobs burn Bangkok






Arsonists rampaged in downtown Bangkok on Wednesday afternoon, setting fire to buildings and shopping centres, after the core leaders of the United Front for Thaksincracy against Dictatorship surrendered and announced an end to the protest rally at Ratchaprasong intersection.


Fires were reported at Central World department store in Ratchaprasong, Siam Theatre at Siam Square, the Paragon shopping centre and branches of commercial banks nearby.


Fighting between troops and protesters, and explosions, were reported throughout the area.


At the Sala Daeng intersection on Rama IV Road, rampaging protesters destroyed telephone booths, advertising signs, traffic signs and other public property.


The Bangkok Post building in nearby Klong Toey was evacuated shortly before 3pm as a mob advanced from the Rama IV intersection to Five Ways and down the narrow Na Ranong road leading to the Post building about 200 metres away.


The Post building also houses the Bangkok Post's sister newspaper, the Thai-language Post Today.


[color:red]TV Channel 3, which is based nearby on Rama IV Road in the Maleenont Building was also off the air.


Reports quoted staff at the TV station saying their building had been attacked by red-shirt protesters.[/color]


[color:red]One staffer said cars parked outside the building were set on fire and protesters then entered the Channel 3 building.[/color]


The 6th floor of Maleenont Building and the Klong Toey office of the Bangkok Metropolitan Electricity Authority were also reported to be on fire.


Red-shirts set fires at the Stock Exchange of Thailand building, reports said.


Red-shirt mobs also set fire to the provincial halls in Khon Kaen and Udon Thani, in the Northeast of the country, reports said.





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Curfew in the capital, provinces






The Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situation (CRES) has announced curfew in Bangkok, nearby cities and provinces in the North and Northeast earlier placed under emergency law, televisions reported on Wednesday afternoon.


[color:red]Under the declared curfew, the people in restricted provinces are not allowed to leave their homes from 8pm today to 6am on Thursday.[/color]


The state authorities are allowed to perform duty in the restricted areas to help restore peace and order.


The curfew order immediately takes effect.


The CRES order was signed by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva late this afternoon.






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Sorry it took so long... I'm trying to work.... I hope you didn't hold your breath for a long time.





Angry red-shirt protesters booed off their leaders' attempts to enter an immediate peace process with the government yesterday, presenting another major stumbling block to attempts to end the bloody violence plaguing Bangkok.


Before the major twist in the evening, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was decried by the government as the main mastermind of the violence and the key obstacle to peace. The government also rejected calls for a mutual cease-fire, saying the red shirts must leave the Rajprasong intersection first before any peace talks can begin.


But a group of five senators, led by Senator Lertrat Ratanavanich, visited the Rajprasong stage early in the evening and managed to convince the leaders to agree to a unilateral cease-fire to immediately kick-start the peace process. When Lertrat announced the agreement to protesters, they greeted him with boos and threw articles.


Red leaders took turns to try to pacify the crowd, who still sounded very upset as they spoke. The leaders said dozens of times that their intention to "save lives" should not be interpreted as a "secret deal" with the government. "Even dogs can't do that [striking a secret deal with the government]," said Natthawut Saikua.


After spending two months portraying the Abhisit government as the worst tyrant, the leaders found out that the crowd had taken it all seriously, with emotions fuelled by the heavy casualties inflicted on the movement after four days of violence. Last night, therefore, was a make-or-break moment which would reveal if the leaders could still control the crowd or it has become an independent, unpredictable force of its own.


The defiant crowd presented another snag after Thaksin allegedly made demands that could not be met by the government. According to a government source, Thaksin, through his representatives, appeared uninterested in an early end to the red shirts' protests and riots as long as he did not get what he wanted.


"As long as Thaksin does not get what he wants, he won't let this end so easily," said the source. "His latest condition is that he wants not only amnesty in the different cases against him, but also have his passports returned. Those conditions cannot be met by the government."


Violence continued but with decreased intensity in Bangkok, with Bon Kai and Rajprarop remaining the most sensitive areas, where sporadic gunshots and explosions were still heard. The fatality toll since last Friday was 37, excluding Maj-General Khattiya Sawasdipol. Nearly 300 people are injured.


Thaksin's influence in the ongoing secret talks between the government and the red shirts was confirmed by another source from the opposition Pheu Thai Party.


The source, who is close to the ex-premier, said that certain Pheu Thai leaders and Thaksin's close relatives were also involved in the secret talks. In addition to other conditions, such as the date for a new election, Thaksin also made his personal demands.


"Up till now, there have been no positive responses to the demands. These include a return of part of assets from the asset-seizure case and a return of Thaksin's passports," said the Pheu Thai source.


[color:red]The source also said that Thaksin has a "trump card" in hand that he would use if the talks fail.


[color:red]"The real strategists [Thaksin's allies from the military] will play an underground game by staging sabotage acts in different areas throughout the city and other major provinces in order to pressure the government to accept Thaksin's conditions," the source said.[/color]


Meanwhile, the Cabinet yesterday declared the three remaining work days of the week as public holidays in Bangkok to facilitate the operations to restore peace in the city.


During yesterday's Cabinet meeting at the 11th Infantry Regiment, the head strategist of the operation, deputy Army chief of staff Lt-General Dawpong Rattanasuban, explained to the ministers about the military-led operation. He was assigned by Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who heads the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation.


The general said Army snipers were responsible for some deaths during the mayhem but those killed were carrying weapons, a government source quoted him as saying. "When the bodies or the injured people were taken away [from the scene], the weapons lying beside them were left behind," he was quoted by the source as telling the Cabinet.


Dawpong also said that many of the deaths were caused by heavily armed men siding with the red shirts. "More than a hundred grenades were fired from M79 launchers," he said, adding that deaths of "innocent people" were often wrongly blamed on the military.


In a related development, Pheu Thai MPs plan to submit a petition to Senate Speaker Prasopsuk Boondej this morning seeking impeachment of Suthep and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva for ordering the military operations on the red shirts.


MP Surapong Towichakchaikul said the party resolved that all of its MPs sign the petition. Any MP who fails to take part would not be fielded in the next election as they would be suspected of possible defection.


Also yesterday, Thammasat University's law lecturer Parinya Thewanarumitkul released an open letter reminding the prime minister and red-shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan that they were fellow protesters 18 years ago when there were street demonstrations against a coup leader becoming prime minister. The protests led to a deadly military crackdown.







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Sorry it took so long... I'm trying to work.... I hope you didn't hold your breath for a long time.....




Thanks for that.



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How can this happen? What is the military and police doing? They should be present at such key landmarks.


The should use their guns to prevent these terrorists to set hole Bangkok on fire.


This is just unbelievable. If the damn police would do their job, this would not have happened.

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From AP's report by Denis Grey :



<< Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn declared the first stage of the army operation to secure the area around Lumpini Park successful.


But the advance was stalled by sniper fire from Red Shirts the Associated Press journalists saw. Bullets flew overhead and several grenades exploded near the soldiers, forcing them to pull back and take cover briefly before pushing forward. A Canadian freelance reporter was injured by grenade shrapnel. Two other journalists were wounded earlier, one Dutch man and an American documentary filmmaker.


By mid-afternoon, the army announced it had gained control of the protest zone and the operations had ended  nine hours after troops launched the pre-dawn assault.


"Police officers and soldiers have now stopped their operation," army spokesman Col. Sansern Kawekamnerd said. >>





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