Deadly Bangkok Clashes Continue

Friday, May 14, 2010

Downtown Bangkok is starting to resemble a war zone. Thai army forces have used live ammunition against protesters, who are responding with firebombs and homemade rockets. 

At least eight people have been killed in clashes that started to erupt on Thursday in Bangkok between security officers and anti-government protestors. The protesters, known as the "red shirts," have been camped out in one of Bangkok's commercial districts for more than two months. They want Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve parliament, call for new elections and step down.

One protest leader says it's "not a civil war yet," but violence is escalating. Khattiya Sawasdipol, also known as Seh Daeng, a renegade Thai red-shirt general, survived a shot in the head yesterday while talking to reporters during the clashes. Today, protestors set fire to a police bus and shot fireworks at troops in a tourist market. The clashes have killed at least five people so far and injured close to a dozen people. Three journalists are among those injured.

Government security forces are trying to stop the protests with tear gas and rubber bullets. Authorities are also cutting off water, electricity, transportation and cell phone services around the protestor's camp. "We want to cut down a number of activities including the logistics, sending in the fuel and gasoline trucks," a Thai government spokesperson told The BBC. The Thai government called a state of emergency in 17 provinces across the country yesterday.

Protestors say they have no plans to give up. "They are tightening a noose on us but we will fight to the end, brothers and sisters," Nattawut Saikua, one of the anti-government protestors' leaders told a cheering crowd, according to Reuters.

For more WQXR coverage on this story, click here.

This story has been updated to include current casualty estimates.

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