Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014

Read more

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

  • US aid drops begin in besieged Iraqi town of Amerli

    Read more

  • EU leaders choose Tusk and Mogherini for top jobs, discuss Russia sanctions

    Read more

  • Opposition protesters clash with Pakistani police outside PM's house

    Read more

  • Austerity row overshadows French Socialist’s annual rally

    Read more

  • Egypt sentences Brotherhood leader Badie to life

    Read more

  • Ceasfire allows Gaza families to relax on the beach

    Read more

  • S. Africa condemns 'military coup' in Lesotho

    Read more

  • Kerry calls for 'coalition of nations' to battle IS militants

    Read more

  • Ukrainian plane with seven on board crashes in Algeria

    Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns Russia of more sanctions

    Read more

  • IMF backs Lagarde amid French corruption probe

    Read more

  • Ebola drug ‘ZMapp’ heals all monkeys in study

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • Suriname leader’s son pleads guilty to courting Hezbollah

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Death toll mounts as army cracks down on 'Red Shirts'

Video by Josh Vardey

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-05-15

Thailand's "Red Shirt" anti-government protesters continued to clash with security forces in central Bangkok Saturday, as troops struggled to contain demonstrators. The death toll has climbed to 16 since fighting broke out Thursday.

REUTERS - Thai troops fired at protesters on Saturday in a third day of fighting on Bangkok's streets that has killed 16 people as soldiers struggle to isolate a sprawling encampment of demonstrators seeking to topple the government.

Clashes continued across central Bangkok as soldiers fired live rounds at protesters. One was shot in the chest while trying to ignite a rubber tyre in the business district, witnesses said.

At Din Daeng intersection, north of the protest site, three bodies were evacuated on stretchers, a Reuters witness said. Two suffered head wounds. Troops had also swarmed into a parking lot at the popular Dusit Thani hotel outside the protest site

Protesters set fire to vehicles, including an army truck.



That followed a long night of thundering grenade explosions and sporadic gunfire as the army battled to set up a perimeter around a 3.5 sq-km (1.2 sq-mile) protest site of red-shirted demonstrators who refuse to leave.


"We'll keep on fighting," said Kwanchai Praipana, a leader of the red-shirted protesters, calling on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to resign and take responsibility for Thailand's deadliest political crisis in 18 years.

He said supplies of food, water and fuel were starting to run thin but they had enough to last "days".

The crisis has paralysed parts of Bangkok, squeezed Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy and scared off tourists.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon expressed concern over "the rapidly mounting tensions and violence".

"He strongly encourages them to urgently return to dialogue in order to de-escalate the situation and resolve matters peacefully," his spokesman said in a statement.

The Canadian government urged both sides to return to talks after a Bangkok-based Canadian journalist was shot three times, one of three journalists wounded in fighting that has spiralled into chaotic urban warfare where front lines shift quickly.

By Saturday, troops had taken control of checkpoints on at least three roads surrounding the main protest site, checking identification cards in an attempt to stop people from joining thousands in the area, including women and children.

"Unlikely to end quickly"

The government said on Friday it would restore order "in the next few days" as the city of 15 million people braced for a crackdown to end a six-week protest by thousands of "red shirts" packed into an area of high-end department stores, luxury hotels, embassies and expensive residential apartments.

The Erawan Medical Centre in Bangkok said 16 people had been killed in the latest fighting.

"It's unlikely to end quickly," said a source close to army chief Anupong Paochinda, fearing more protesters would arrive to surround and attack soldiers.

"There will be several skirmishes in the coming days but we are still confident we will get the numbers down and seal the area," added the source, who declined to be identified by name.

The number of protesters in the main encampment appeared to have dropped overnight but several thousands remained, many singing and listening to speeches by protest leaders. Some leaders, including the movement's chairman, have disappeared.

Protesters are barricaded behind walls of kerosene-soaked tyres, sharpened bamboo staves, concrete blocks and razor wire.

Before fighting began on Thursday with the shooting of a renegade general allied with the protesters, the two-month crisis had already killed 29 people and wounded about 1,400 -- most of whom died during an April 10 gun battle in Bangkok's old quarter.

The fighting is the latest flare-up in a polarising five-year crisis between a royalist urban elite establishment, who back the prime minister, and the rural and urban poor who accuse conservative elites and the military's top brass of colluding to bring down two elected governments.

Those governments were led or backed by exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, a graft-convicted populist billionaire ousted in a 2006 coup who is a figurehead of the protest movement.

The red shirts and their supporters say the politically powerful military influenced a 2008 parliamentary vote, which took place after a pro-Thaksin party was dissolved, to ensure the British-born, Oxford-educated Abhisit rose to power.

Five-year Thai credit default swaps, used to hedge against debt default, widened by more than 30 basis points on Friday -- the biggest jump in 15 months -- to 142 basis points.

"With gun battles and grenades going off, investors will look elsewhere," said Danny Richards, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

"I don't think many see the end of this protest as the end of the crisis. When there's an election, either side will reject the legitimacy of the other and we'll be back to square one."

Date created : 2010-05-14

  • THAILAND

    Red Shirt 'general' wounded, protester dead

    Read more

  • THAILAND

    Understanding the colour-coded crisis

    Read more

  • THAILAND

    FRANCE 24 journalist seriously injured in Bangkok clashes

    Read more

COMMENT(S)