BANGKOK, April 13 (Xinhua) -- Violence in Thailand is
escalating Monday despite government troops attempted to gain control and
restore order to the capital Bangkok.
The whole-day's stand-off and clashes between
anti-government "red shirted" protestors and Thai police and soldiers have left
more than 70 people injured.
A burning bus is seen on a street near
the Government House in Bangkok, capital of Thailand, on April 13, 2009.
A building in Thailand's education ministry complex
has been set ablaze after being hit by petrol bombs. Protestors also seized
seven buses and set them on fire in front of the army headquarters, sending
flames shooting high into the sky, witnesses said.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on
national TV that the protestors had no right to break the law or violate other
people's rights. He added that he would not step down under violence threat.
Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban also
warned of possible sabotage of "red shirted" people on Monday night.
Thai army soldiers
mass for orders near the Government House in Bangkok, capital of Thailand,
April 13, 2009. (Xinhua/Zhang Fengguo)
In a televised program, Suthep, who is in charge of
national security, asked police and soldiers to take action against protesters
who break the law.
Under emergency rules, authorities are empowered to
detain any person without charge for up to 30 days.
The violence started before dawn Monday after Abhisit
declared a state of emergency on Sunday afternoon in Bangkok and some districts
of five provinces nearby, citing the escalating violence of red-shirted
Thai soldiers crack down on the anti-government protestors
along the road near the Victory Monument in Bangkok, capital
of Thailand, April 13, 2009. (Xinhua/Thana Nuntavoranut)
Soon after the declaration of the state of emergency,
soldiers and armored carriers were deployed onto the Bangkok street.
At about 4:30 a.m. local time Monday morning, some
300 red-shirted protestors used a seized bus to crash soldiers stationed at Din
Daeng District in north Bangkok. Soldiers fired warning shots into the air and
used teargas to disperse the protestors.
Till early afternoon, the Thai security authorities have managed to disperse red- shirted protestors from many areas in Bangkok as traffic have resumed.
Thai army soliders stand guard on a street near the Government House in Bangkok, capital of Thailand, on April 13, 2009. (Xinhua/Zhang Fengguo)
Supreme Commander Songkitti Chakkrabat, who is a
director of a newly-set-up emergency-tackling-command, said in a televised
statement in the afternoon Thailand's peace and stability would be restored as
quickly as possible in order to bring normal life back to the Thai people.
"We will attempt to bring the key transportation systems, working life, and people's life back to normal quickly," said the Supreme Commander in a television address.
A man kneels down to stop Thai soldiers from marching towards the Government House in Bangkok, capital of Thailand, April 13, 2009. (Xinhua/Huang Haimin)
He said the government will not use weapons against
the protestors, but protesters must not break the law, otherwise, the security
forces have rights to protect themselves.
On the other side, several thousand "red shirts" were
still encamped at the Government House.
The leader of red-shirted protestors Natthawut Saikua told supporters to use the Government House as its final protest stronghold and urged supporters to mass there to deter a crackdown by government troops, according to the report on the website of the newspaper Bangkok Post.
A man throws a wooden stick to Thai soldiers while they try to march towards the Government House in Bangkok, capital of Thailand, April 13, 2009. (Xinhua/Huang Haimin)
He urged protestors elsewhere in Bangkok not to clash
with the authorities.
The flare-up came at the start of the Thai New Year
holiday, traditional Songkran Festival which falls on April 13-15. The chaos
will give another blow to tourism, one of Thailand's biggest foreign exchange
earners. Several countries and regions, including Australia, China and Russia
have issued travel warnings to their citizens.
To solve the political unrest, Thailand's former
Senate speaker Suchon Chaleekrua Monday led a group of former senators to file a
petition, seeking Thai king's intervention to end the current political
The political unrest in Thailand has been ongoing
since former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was removed by a military coup in
In November last year, swarms of anti-government
demonstrators, or called as "yellow-shirted" protestors, marched to the streets
and shut down the country's main international airport for one week.
After a court ordered the removal of the previous
pro-Thaksin government, Abhisit was appointed by the Parliament in December,
prompting displeased Thaksin supporters to stage regular street