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Troops on the streets in Bangkok on Monday

Bangkok Two 'Killed by Red Shirts'

Sunday, April 12, 2009
Monday Update, Photo Album

TWO Bangkok residents were shot dead on Monday evening in a dispute with red shirt protesters, says Phuketwan reporter Shanya Phattrasaya.

She said the killings came about 9.40pm as a result of Bangkok residents objecting to the invasion of their neighborhood by red shirt protesters.

People had been asking them: ''Do you favor democracy, or do you support someone?''

One man, aged 53, died from a shotgun blast. He was the first fatality in three days of confrontation. Another man, a young resident, was also killed.

Earlier reports said the second fatality was a protester who died from wounds.

TROOPS started clearing protesters from Bangkok streets before dawn, firing tear gas and live ammunition into the air, retaking one intersection near the Victory Monument.

Phuketwan roving reporter Shanya Phattrasaya drove around the Victory Monument in the capital this afternoon and spotted ''just a few'' red-shirts.

She said large sections of Bangkok were in the control of the army, with troops directing traffic away from Government House and the Democrat Party offices, where red shirts still have control.

''The army appears to have won back the streets,'' she reported. ''Most people are going about their business as usual.''

Five large Central malls and Siam Paragon shut down this afternoon until Wednesday as a precaution. Closed too was the backpacker mecca of Khao San Road in case red shirts chose to target it.

Local business association president Surat Wongchansin said many tourists had left already with occupancy at just 20 percent now.

The road will resume celebrating Songkran tomorrow and Wednesday if security improves.

Khun Shanya reported: ''The capital has experienced many coups so it is no great surprise to see troops and guns. Most of the action must have taken place before dawn.

''I visited a hospital near the monument. People living in the area have been advised to stay indoors.

''Because of the army blocking some roads, there is virtually no traffic.''

Bangkok residents have been abusing red shirts, telling them the locals want their neighborhoods back.

Scores of arrests were reported before 10.30am today, and the total number continued to rise for some time. Hospitals were reported to be treating injured from both sides.

Seventy people were treated for injuries, including 23 soldiers, according to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. Four soldiers had gunshot wounds, he said.

But by 11am, further violence had failed to break out. The streets of the capital were quiet after the pre-dawn action.

Numbers of protesters on the streets were limited. There was no sign of a ''revolution.'' Because it is a six-day Songkran holiday in Thailand, many people are away from the capital, visiting family.

Supporters of the anti-government protesters in Bangkok were reported to be staging protests in other provinces, north of Bangkok.

Disgraced former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has dropped his pretence of civility, calling for a ''revolution'' while enjoying the sanctuary of a destination outside Thailand.

''Now that they have tanks on the streets, it is time for the people to come out in revolution,'' he said in a message shown on giant screens to protesters outside government offices.

''And when it is necessary, I will come back to the country.''

With at least one buses and piles of tyres burning in Bangkok streets, mass cancellations were reported from travel agencies in China, with more expected to follow as Thailand's tourism industry plunges to even greater depths.

Malaysia issued an advisory warning its citizens not to travel to Thailand, one of 15 countries to upgrade their advice to travellers.

Others included Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Russia and the Philippines.

Arichsaman Pongrungrong, a former singer who led the Pattaya protest that ignited red shirts there and in Bangkok, was released on 500,000 baht bail this morning and arrested again this afternoon.

The Malaysian news agency, Bernama, headed one report 'Thailand's Shattered Image.'

It reported: ''With a battered image coming just five months after the airport closure that stranded over 350,000 travellers, business and tourism leaders are fearing the worst, on top of the world economy crisis and projection of one million job losses this year.''

No concerns are held for the safety of tourists in Phuket or planning to visit Phuket.

The island is hundreds of kilometres to the south of the capital and a stronghold of the yellow-shirts, who support the present government.

Cathay cancelled one flight this afternoon from Hong Kong to Bangkok.

Original Report

BANGKOK and Thailand were facing deep uncertainty today with troops and tanks in the streets of the capital and mayhem apparently in the minds of red-shirt protesters intent on bringing down the government.

Repetition of lawless behavior of the past two days is likely to bring more severe action from sunrise, the Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva made clear in a late-night television address.

PM Abhisit, who called a state of emergency for Bangkok and five provinces in a national address on Sunday afternoon, made it plain that riotous behavior would not be treated with lenience.

The Songkran New Year's holiday today, traditionally a day of renewal, now mark the flashpoint in an extended and largely non-violent face-off that began in 2006 when a military coup removed PM Thaksin Shinawatra from power.

Flanked by key government, military and police leaders, the Prime Minister made it plain last night that the authorities were united and ready to act.

The message to red-shirts in the streets of the capital and to the disgraced Khun Thaksin, urging on the unrest from outside the country, could not be more plain.

From the moment that red shirt protesters breached security at a resort in the holiday city of Pattaya on Saturday as the leaders of 16 nations from across Asia were about to meet, it became plain that the long months of political unrest could not continue.

Today, Thailand's future is likely to be determined on the streets of Bangkok.

The confrontation has proved tragic for the tourism industry with Associated Press reporting it like this:

''Tourism Council of Thailand Chairman Kongkrit Hiranyakit predicted that the country would lose at least 200 billion baht ($5.6 billion) as foreign tourists shunned the country as they did after the airport take-overs.

''Tourism is Thailand's major foreign currency earner and one they can't afford to ignore as it grapples with the shock of the global economic crisis.''

For Phuket and other holiday destinations, the burst of visitors (and revenue) that came with Songkran may represent a peak followed by a slide to even lower depths than were thought possible just last week.

Sunday's Original Report


THE Canadian Embassy is sending a telephone text message to citizens advising them to 'use caution, avoid public gatherings and follow the advice of authorities'.

TROOPS are now active in Bangkok after Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency this afternoon in six provinces, including the capital.

The emergency was declared amid concern about red-shirt reaction to the arrest of the leader of the protest in Pattaya yesterday that closed the Asean summit.

Today one red-shirt leader, on a platform at a protest in Bangkok, and with another red-shirt nearby holding a weapon, told listeners that he wanted to kill the PM.

The terms of the state of emergency prohibit more than five people congregating, an unusual situation for the eve of Thailand's usually joyful Songkran New Year celebrations.

One thousand extra police are now on the streets of the capital.

Arichsaman Pongrungrong, who led the red shirt protest in Pattaya that brought the Asean Plus Six Summit to an untimely halt yesterday, was arrested this morning at his house in Bangkok.

It was reported that, while being taken in a helicopter to an unknown destination, he attempted to wrest the controls from the chopper pilot.

Today's declaration of a state of emergency, the second in two days, came at 2.33pm.

Soon after, reports came that red-shirt protesters were conducting an invasion of the Interior Ministry, apparently in the belief that the PM might be there.

Today's declaration of a state of emergency applied to Bangkok, Ayuthaya, Nakornpratom, Patumthani, Samudpakran and Nonthaburi.

Yesterday's declaration of emergency applied only to Chonburi province and Pattaya. It enabled authorities to assist visiting national leaders and their entourages to escape the resort.

The declaration was rescinded after six hours. Today's second state of emergency takes politics in Thailand to a new level of uncertainty.

Several embassies upgraded travel warnings, with the tech-savvy Canadians sending an sms and an email that read:

Dear Canadian Citizens,

Please be advised that on April 12, 2009 a State of Emergency was declared in Bangkok and Nonthaburi province, as well as some districts of Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom and Ayutthaya.

The security situation is fluid, therefore the Embassy is recommending against non-essential travel to these areas. Please exercise extreme caution and follow the advice and direction of local authorities.

Canadians in these areas should expect an increased security presence and measures. Canadians should monitor local media to remain up to date regarding the latest developments.

As you are aware, political demonstrations have been ongoing in Bangkok and in many other provinces throughout the country.

Some demonstrations have involved violence while others have focused on road blockades and traffic disruptions. Canadians are strongly advised to avoid locations and areas where demonstrations have been and are currently ongoing.

The official travel report for Thailand issued by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, including the information presented above, is updated regularly and can be viewed at http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/report_rapport-eng.asp?id=290000.

We urge Canadians to review the Travel Report regularly.

Canadians are encouraged to ensure that their registration information, including contact details are up to date.

For more information, please consult the Registration of Canadians Abroad webpage at www.voyage.gc.ca/main/sos/rocapage-en.asp. If you are aware of any Canadians in Thailand who may not be registered, please share this information with them.

Should you require consular assistance please contact the Embassy at 02 636 0540 or bngkk-cs@international.gc.ca .
Sincerely,

Consular Section
Embassy of Canada

Phuketwan on Red Shirt Protests


Phuket's Turn Next for the Asean Summit?
Analysis Pattaya and Bangkok have so far been homes to an Asean Plus Six gathering that has yet to happen. Island Phuket remains the best chance for a successful summit.
Phuket's Turn Next for the Asean Summit?

Protest Wrecks Asean: State of Emergency Called
Photo Album The Prime Minister called a state of emergency this afternoon after red shirts took control of the Asean Summit and forced the leaders of 16 countries to head for home.
Protest Wrecks Asean: State of Emergency Called

Red Shirts Short on Numbers in Bangkok Rally
Latest Amid concern at rising levels of invective in Thai politics, Thaksin inspired demonstrators throng Bangkok in a peaceful protest. The turnout is down on expectations.
Red Shirts Short on Numbers in Bangkok Rally

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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I'd be happy to 'follow the advice of authorities', but who the hell's in charge?!

Posted by Cdn on April 12, 2009 21:37

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Looks like the police and millitary are just little scared rats. They are paid to protect people and they could not even get that right, oooooo weeeeeee ! Drive with your seatbelt undone and you're really in for it. Sad days ahead Thailand. Long live Phuket.

Posted by concerned on April 13, 2009 09:09

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Good report Well done with the roving reporter. keep it up. Helpline, is happy, that the Army, and police did not go over the top. Peace, is what Thailand needs. Sorry for the residents

Posted by Anonymous on April 14, 2009 14:45


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