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Crackdown Begins on Anti-Gov`t Protesters in Thailand

Posted April. 14, 2009 11:15,   


Thai troops and police yesterday started a crackdown on anti-government protesters, leaving many injured in Bangkok and forcing the declaration of a state of emergency.

The English daily Nation said at least 79 were injured when Thai troops threatened protesters by firing live ammo in the air and spraying tear gas. Though five people suffered serious injury, no deaths were reported.

Initially, protesters threatened to blow up a pile of gas containers for cooking at the bustling Din Daeng intersection if Thai troops began a crackdown. They dispersed at 7 a.m., however, three hours after the crackdown began.

Nonetheless, sporadic protests have continued in many parts of the city where Thai troops are confronting tens of thousands of anti-government protesters led by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, which supports former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Thai media said.

Protesters demanded Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to resign while chanting “Democracy!” and waving red flags atop two military armored cars they seized from troops. According to reporters at the scene, they also built barriers with 30 buses in many parts of the city and set tires on fire, consequently paralyzing city traffic.

Supreme Commander Songkitti Jaggabatara said in a television address, “We will not use force to crack down on our people because we are fully aware that they are all Thais. But we reserve the right to use weapons in self-defense.”

isityou@donga.com will71@donga.com