Posted May. 20, 2010 03:03,
Thai police and military troops forced anti-government protest leaders to surrender and scattered the demonstrators in Bangkok, ending the rallies after more than two months.
The Thai government mobilized more than 40 armored vehicles and thousands of troops and police to the citys Rajprasong area around 6 a.m. Wednesday, launching an operation to forcefully disperse anti-government demonstrators who staged sit-in rallies there.
Government forces and demonstrators exchanged fire, killing one Italian photojournalist and four civilians and injuring more than 50 others. The death toll from the demonstrations reached 44 since May 13, while the protest that began March 12 saw a cumulative death toll of 73.
When the military took over most of the sections occupied by demonstrators, protest leaders Nattawut Saikua and Jatuporn Prompan surrendered, telling the demonstrators, We dont want more deaths among the protestors around 1:30 p.m.
Subsequently, seven leaders of the demonstrations turned themselves in to police around 1:40 p.m., or six hours and 40 minutes after the launch of the operation. The military then ended the operation, halting the 68-day antigovernment protest that began March 12.