Wednesday, May 19, 2010
GOVERNMENT TROOPS STORM PROTESTORS
BANGKOK (various sources): The stand-off between anti-government protesters and Thai troops is escalating in Bangkok, as the government launched an aggressive push to clear 3,000 demonstrators from their fortified camp in the center of the city. “This is D-Day,” one soldier said. Troops are using armored vehicles to break through the protesters’ barricades, made of tires and bamboo, and firing tear gas ahead. The Red Shirts, as the protestors are known, have been enclosed in the encampment since Thursday, and have no plans to back down. "We're asking everybody to be ready for a crackdown," one protest leader said. They have been rallying against Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who they say came to power illegitimately in 2008, since mid-March. The riots have so far claimed 68 lives and injured more than 1,700.
Rioting and fires swept Bangkok on Wednesday after troops stormed a protest encampment, forcing protest leaders to surrender, but sparking clashes that killed at least four people and triggered unrest in northern Thailand.
At least five people, including an Italian journalist, were killed Wednesday during an army crackdown on an anti-government protest site in Bangkok, police and a hospital said. "An Italian man was shot and died before arriving at the hospital," said Police Hospital director Jongjet Aoajenpong. "He's a journalist. He was shot in the stomach," he added. Meanwhile elite troops deployed in the protest-hit capital have been authorized to shoot on sight people looting, committing arson or inciting unrest, a police spokesman has said.