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Escalating Thai violence

Authorities in Thailand have put around a third of the country, including the capital of Bangkok, under a curfew after leaders of the street protesters known as Red Shirts surrendered.

The curfew is the first in Bangkok in fifteen years, and is to run from 20:00 to 06:00 local time. As part of the curfew, only government-sanctioned media is to be allowed on television stations. The crackdown by the Thai government comes after army troops entered an area held by protesters and arrested six prominent rebel leaders.

At least six people are confirmed dead after Wednesday’s violence, and military operations are expected to continue for at least another night. The government has also authorized security forces to shoot protesters. Around 40 people in total have been killed since the beginning of military operations against protesters last week. Read More…

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Thai government clash with red shirt

On Friday Thai police and army units moved in to surround and cut off the protesters main camp, meeting heavy resistance from the red shirts resulting in the deaths of two people with dozens more injured.

Severely wounded by sniper fire

Thai Army Major-General Khattiya Sawasdipol who has defected from the government forces and has been advising the Red Shirts on security and defence matters was hit in the head by a sniper’s bullet and is reportedly in a critical condition in hospital.

One of the Red Shirt leaders, Nattawut Saikuar, accuses the Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of starting a civil war. This comes as there are reports of a policeman opening fire on soldiers near a police station in Bangkok, showing that there may be divisions within the security services themselves. Both the British and American embassies in Bangkok confirm they are to close for security reasons. Read More…

US closes embassy in Thailand

A string of anti-government protests in Bangkok yesterday resulted in at least one fatality, numerous others injured, and the temporary closure of several foreign embassies in Thailand.

Philip Crowley, a spokesperson for the US State Department, announced early Thursday morning that the US embassy would be closed to the public due to its location near the violence.

The embassy will be operating with a reduced staff and will not offer American citizens services until the conflict is resolved. The British and Dutch embassies in Thailand also halted their services after the Thai government said that it would seal off the area.

The leader of the protests was fugitive Major-General Khattiya Sawasdipol, the radical leader of the militant Red Shirt movement. While giving interviews with foreign journalists, Sawasdipol appeared to have been shot in the head by a sniper. He was later taken to a local hospital for emergency treatment. Read More…

Dissident Thai General shot by sniper while talking to NYT reporter

Major General Khattiya Sawasdipol was shot in the head yesterday while talking to a New York Times newspaper reporter and just as Schearf approached him to ask a question.

Seconds later, protest security guards yelled at journalists and on-lookers to stay back as they tried to help the general – also known as Seh Daeng  – into a van and to the hospital.  After he was driven away, explosions rang out and the protesters, called the Red Shirts, scattered.

One protester, who was trying to get people to leave the area, says soldiers fired a grenade and used live ammunition.  The protester said, “A soldier, Thai soldier, he shoot M16 and M79 to Thai people, Red Shirts.”  But his claims could not be verified in the ensuring chaos. Read More…

Thai ‘Red Shirts’ raid hospital in Bangkok

A major hospital in Bangkok was forced to evacuate patients and suspend operations after about 100 anti-government protesters stormed the building late Thursday.

The Red Shirts rushed into Chulalongkorn Hospital, located near their encampment in Bangkok’s upscale shopping and tourist center, looking for Thai security forces they believed were hiding there.  The group later withdrew after failing to find any troops.

Weng Tojirakarn, one of Red Shirt leaders, later apologized for the raid on the hospital, calling it “inappropriate.” Read More…

Thai police clash with protesters

Protesters in Thailand clashed today with government police, killing at least one soldier and wounding eighteen more in what media reported as being a “very tense and intense standoff.”

The violence, unusually outside of the center of Bangkok, included Thai security forces firing on protesters, apparently with both rubber bullets and live ammunition, which police had been authorized to use in self-defense. The conflict took place along a highway that a convoy of protesters was traveling along; government forces were trying to disperse the demonstrators. Read More…

Thai PM dismisses offer by anti-government protesters

Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has ruled out a compromise offer by anti-government protest leaders for parliament to be dissolved with elections to be held in 90 days.

Thailand's PM Abhisit Vejjajiva

In a televised address Sunday, with army chief General Anupong Paochinda at his side, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva dismissed the offer by the anti-government protesters.

Mr. Abhisit said the government stood by an offer made during earlier talks with the anti-government United Democratic Front against Dictatorship for the house to be dissolved within the next nine months.

In reaction, the UDD maintained an earlier call for parliament to be dissolved immediately. The UDD also withdrew from any further negotiations with the government.
UDD leaders have repeatedly warned supporters rallying in central Bangkok’s retail and business area of the threat of a new government crackdown.

General Anupong said a crackdown was not expected to solve the current problems, which, he said, called for a political solution.

Source Voice of America