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Red protesters are subdued but in Bangkok and up north, it's not over yet

LIVE UPDATE Looters, Arsonists Loose; Curfew in Bangkok Extended to 21 Provinces; Central World, Stock Exchange Set Ablaze by Mobs; Thaksin Blamed for Tragedy

Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Phuketwan UPDATE: Photo Album Above

A daily wrap of Thailand news, with a Phuket perspective, plus relevant reports from national and international media.

8pm The 8pm-6am curfew that originally applied only to Bangkok was extended to all 21 provinces that had been under the state of emergency declaration. Tonight will not be an easy night for Thailand. Asked on BBC television whether disgraced former Prime Minister was to blame for what had happened, Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij replied: ''Absolutely.'' He said Thaksin had won supporters by ''promising them the world.'' ''The whole conflict is a tragedy for all Thais and a tragedy for the country,'' he said.

7.50pm The curfew from 8pm is expected to curtail news coverage by Thai and international media.

6pm At least 20 blazes are said to be burning in or near key buildings across Bangkok this evening.
5.45pm Volunteers are being called up to assist forces during tonight's curfew from 8pm and all Thai television will show government information programming from now on, a spokesman announced. People needing to travel tonight via air or sea are advised to carry passports and tickets. ''We are committed to make sure all people in Bangkok are safe and secure,'' the spokesman said, in both Thai and English.

5.40pmThe Italian photojournalist who was killed is Fabio Polenghi, from Milano.
5.25pm All banks throughout Thailand, plus the Thai Stock Exchange will close Thursday and Friday, Thai media reports.
4.55pm Residents are reported to be confronting red shirts around Bangkok with 400 said to be involved in a clash in Din Daeng. The police have taken five red leaders to Hua Hin so they cannot be accessed easily by protesters.

4.44pm With Maleenon Tower ablaze, helicopters were rescuing people from the top via a landing pad.

4.06pm Channel Three goes off the air. Concerns mount about the fires in Bangkok. The red protest appears to have transformed into sabotage guerrilla warfare all over Bangkok.

4pm Maleenon Tower, a communications outlet for a television station, is the latest building to be blazing as it became plain that red protesters are conducting a fiery second front. While some red leaders have surrendered and are being interrogated, the fighting and the blaze-setting continue. Power failures are being reported.

3.52pm Home of the Permanent Secretary of the Governor of Chiang Mai set alight. Other blazes have been started in at least three provinces.

3.40pm With major fires burning in Bangkok, a curfew will be declared from 8pm to 6am overnight with checkpoints operated by the army and police all over the capital. At least one group of reds has declared their independence and their intention to fight on. Fire fighters are reportedly being turned away from the Bangkok blazes at gunpoint.

3.22pm Latest reports say red protesters are attacking a local TV station and the stock exchange, which closed prematurely at noon today. The Bangkok Post newspaper is evacuating staff as a precaution. Red attacks are being reported at prominent businesses throughout Bangkok.
3.15pm Death toll now at five. Khon Kaen Provincial Hall reported to have been burned, as with Udon Thani. Photos sent from Ubon Ratchathani show protesters at government offices and lighting a bonfire outside an air force base.

3.03pm Phuket red leader Sunthorn Toema is at a police station and about to be interviewed, he told Phuketwan. Phuket is well-represented on both sides. One officer in the latest detachment of 173 police sent from Phuket as reinforcements said this contingent were in their eighth day and had not had the chance to be replaced before the action began. Phuket police follow the army into action and are perfectly content to be behind the soldiers, he said.

2.58pm Curfew expected to be imposed on Bangkok tonight. Army operation has been halted but is not yet over.

2.41pm Red mobs have shot their way into a second big Bangkok shopping centre, Siam Paragon, and set it ablaze. They say that they are an independent group, no longer under the command of the former red leaders. No word on whether either blaze is large or small.

2.26pmThe ground floor of Bangkok's Central World, among the largest shopping complexes in South-East Asia, has been set on fire by a red mob, a text news report says. Firemen are being kept at bay by armed protesters. No fresh reports yet from disturbances by 1000 people at Khon Kaen Provincial Hall and 5000 people at Udon Thani Provincial Hall.

1.58pm An army spokesman announces on television that they have ceased moving forward and are maintaining their positions outside the core red camp. He says the situation is within their control. The camp is virtually deserted now. The insurrection seems to be over in this part of Bangkok.

1.39pm Some Bangkok red shirt leaders surrender at Royal Thai Police headquarters. A police loudspeaker announcement to protesters says: ''We promise we will take care of your leaders.''
1.28pm Red shirt leaders in Bangkok urge an end to fighting but some protesters choose to continue. Gunfire heard around the red redoubt. Some captured reds appear to be in handcuffs and blindfolded.
1.10pm Protesters storming administrative headquarters in second northern province of Khon Khaen, a text news message reports.
1.08pm Provincial Hall administrative office in Udon Thani has been set on fire and is burning, a telephone text news message says.
12.45pm A source in the red compound tells Phuketwan that the same red leader who called the television station and promised to surrender is on stage telling protesters that they should fight on.
12.40pm Large numbers of red supporters in at least one northern province are depositing their Thai ID cards in ballot-style boxes in protest at today's events.
12.36pm In a telephone call to a Thai TV station, one red leader promises they will all surrender at 1pm.
12.10pm Phuket red leader Sunthorn Toema answers a telephone call from Phuketwan but says he is too busy to talk. he says he has a minor injury and needs to help others with more serious wounds. He says he is still inside the red compound. He says the red leaders are also still in the compound and rejected reports from the government that they have ''escaped.''

Noon Century Hotel reports three floors destroyed by red raiders. The daughter of the owner expresses dismay at the vandalism.
11.52am One Italian reporter dead, two other journalists among wounded.
11.42am Expat reported to be one of four dead.
11.35am Police put the toll at four dead, unofficially. A government spokesman on television tells viewers in Thai and English that the red leaders ''have now escaped'' and asks for help in learning their whereabouts. A bus service has been organised from the Patumwan junction near the National Stadium to carry residents and visitors out of the area.

11.15am Death toll at three. Army seems to have the area around Lumpini Park under control and is closing on the remaining barricaded reds.
11am Reports that at least two people are dead as the army tightens its grip around red protesters on the streets of Bangkok.
10.50am A second bank is ablaze in Bangkok, Thai media reports.
10.37am Thairath news text message reports that red leaders have fled, unable to control protesters. Concern about mobs acting independently. Action still seems confined to relatively small area of the capital.
10.24am One building, a Kasikorn Bank branch, is ablaze, Thai tv shows. Troops are fanning out through the streets.
10.10am Toll for today: one male red shirt shot dead, 37 wounded. Bangkok Stock Exchange to close at noon.
10.14am Red shirts attack Thaicom tv station, Thai TV reports
10.04am Larger fires burning in Bangkok, Thai TV shows. Red Cross appeals for blood.
9.42am Red shirts attack Century Hotel, near the Victory Monument, Thai TV reports.
9.34am Government spokesman goes on national tv to announce the army move. He says the operations will take place in several areas of Bangkok and are ''now ongoing'' for the entire day. The intention was to provide safety and security and ''stabilise the area.'' ''Residents of Bangkok, if you are concerned or require assistance, please inform the emergency centres, especially [telephone number] 199.''

9.27am One person dead from a shot to the chest, Thai tv reports.
9.20am Armored vehicles push through one tyre and bamboo barricade. There has been speculation that the barricades are wired with explosives, but the armored vehicles are designed to withstand blasts.
9.15am Patients in one part of a Bangkok hospital being taken to other wards to avoid intense smoke from burning tyres.
9am Media question whether this is a final push or an attempt to dislodge women and children from behind the barricades. About 3000 protesters, some hard-core, are left.
8.15am Volley of warning gunshots in the air, water cannon and tear gas in use as armor moves to go through tyre barricades, Thai media reports.
8am ''Decisive action'' is about to be taken against the protesters, a senator tells Thai TV. Red leaders are said to have told protesters to leave. Troops exchanged gunfire with protesters at Lumpini Park, Thai PBS reported.
7.25am Fires were burning at four spots in the streets, close to the barricades but not inside. Fire trucks could not reach the area. Residents were reported to be remonstrating with red protesters.
7.10am Thai tv reports tear gas being fired.

ARMORED vehicles are gathering around the red barricades, Thai media reports. Phuket red leader Sunthorn Toema, who has been in the camp since the first day, told Phuketwan that water cannon and tear gas were likely to be used. ''We can see a helicopter going over regularly,'' he said. ''The army is on our doorstep. OK, ok, I have to go.''

Hot Headline

Troops, armored vehicles in Bangkok for 'D-Day' - ajc.com

''This is D-Day,'' said one soldier when asked if this was the final push.

xinhuanet.com Thai troops fired warning shots and ordered protestors to leave Bangkok's main business district, local television reported Wednesday. ''Please leave the site immediately. Officials are about to conduct an operation,'' the military said on a loudspeaker, according to the Channel 9 television.

nationmultimedia.com About 7 am troops managed to force protesters to retreat from Saladaeng Intersection to Salasin Intersection, Thai PBS reported. Some armoured vehicles were deployed to the Saladaeng Intersection at 5.50 am. Troops used armored vehicles as shields while advancing towards the protesters.

Associated Press Large numbers of Thai troops and armored vehicles have gathered near the fortified encampment occupied by thousands of protesters. Sporadic gunfire was heard at daybreak after overnight rumors of a final push. At least 39 people have been killed and nearly 300 people wounded in seven days of clashes in Bangkok.

bbc.co.uk A Thai protest leader has told supporters to be ready to fight as troops and armored vehicles gathered near their camp in central Bangkok. ''We're asking everybody to be ready for a crackdown,'' anti-government red-shirt leader Nattawut Saikua told Reuters. Witnesses said the troops were massing in Bangkok's business district near the entrance to a fortified encampment of anti-government protesters.

aljazeera.com Soldiers were periodically firing into the red encampment, saying they could see protesters with arms inside, our correspondent said, adding that the media had been warned that tear gas would soon be used, with the officer in charge in the area saying the military had been given permission to move in.

radionz.co.nzThe Thai government says an armed faction within the 'red shirts' is trying to start a civil war and it will not negotiate with the demonstrators until they leave their fortified camp.

heraldsun.com.au Seven armored vehicles and at least two vanloads of troop reinforcements have converged at the perimeter of an anti-government protest camp in Bangkok. The armored personnel carriers had machine guns mounted on top, and the troops were dressed in balaclavas and carried weapons and riot shields, an AFP photographer said.
MediaWATCH: Have Protesters Lost the Plot?
Phuket News Digest Barricades beyond sanity; Reds howl down peace; Thailand tourism shot, burned, stabbed; Foreign investors scramble out; The propaganda war. Phuket Events
MediaWATCH: Have Protesters Lost the Plot?

Phuket Stays Safe, Says Island's Police Chief
Latest Police numbers are down because of reinforcements being sent to Bangkok, but Phuket remains a safe place, says the island's chief of police.
Phuket Stays Safe, Says Island's Police Chief

Red Shirts Ready to Stop, Media Told; Amnesty Accuses Army of 'Reckless Lethal Force'
UPDATE Red shirt leaders talk of stopping if the government does, too. Amnesty International has accused the Thai army of rights abuses.
Red Shirts Ready to Stop, Media Told; Amnesty Accuses Army of 'Reckless Lethal Force'

Phuket's New Low Wipes Smiles From Faces
Latest Falling forward occupancy rates as a result of the Bangkok violence makes for winners and losers. If you are planning a holiday or buying a resort, consider yourself a winner.
Phuket's New Low Wipes Smiles From Faces

Malaysia Takes Advantage of Phuket's Pain
Latest Malaysia's Minister for Tourism is reported to have sought to take advantage of the travel warnings for Bangkok and Phuket by suggesting her country as an alternative.
Malaysia Takes Advantage of Phuket's Pain

MediaWATCH: Have Protesters Lost the Plot?
Phuket News Digest Barricades beyond sanity; Reds howl down peace; Thailand tourism shot, burned, stabbed; Foreign investors scramble out; The propaganda war. Phuket Events
MediaWATCH: Have Protesters Lost the Plot?

Phuket Stays Safe, Says Island's Police Chief
Latest Police numbers are down because of reinforcements being sent to Bangkok, but Phuket remains a safe place, says the island's chief of police.
Phuket Stays Safe, Says Island's Police Chief

Red Shirts Ready to Stop, Media Told; Amnesty Accuses Army of 'Reckless Lethal Force'
UPDATE Red shirt leaders talk of stopping if the government does, too. Amnesty International has accused the Thai army of rights abuses.
Red Shirts Ready to Stop, Media Told; Amnesty Accuses Army of 'Reckless Lethal Force'

Phuket's New Low Wipes Smiles From Faces
Latest Falling forward occupancy rates as a result of the Bangkok violence makes for winners and losers. If you are planning a holiday or buying a resort, consider yourself a winner.
Phuket's New Low Wipes Smiles From Faces

Malaysia Takes Advantage of Phuket's Pain
Latest Malaysia's Minister for Tourism is reported to have sought to take advantage of the travel warnings for Bangkok and Phuket by suggesting her country as an alternative.
Malaysia Takes Advantage of Phuket's Pain

Comments

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thanks PW for keeping us up to date

Posted by Sean on May 19, 2010 07:57

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I, too, blame Thaksin for this, though I wouldn't say that he is absolutely responsible. I'd say he was largely to be blamed and the fact that he speaks with an unmistakable hint of glee over what is happening in Bangkok is infuriating. From the safety of his distant abode, he predicts guerrilla war for his red shirt underlings who are suffering and dying on the streets. I wouldn't bat an eyelid if it is found later that he has been stoking the fire from afar, figuratively and literally.

Posted by A. Wales on May 20, 2010 02:14


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