Bangkok tense as order returns

Bangkok tense as order returns

Government extends curfew after worst violence in decades claims 53 lives

Bangkok tense as order returns

Uneasy calm: Shopkeepers carry their stock near a mall building which was set on fire by anti-government protesters in Bangkok on Thursday. Thai authorities restored order after a night of rioting. REUTERS

Soldiers and emergency workers picked through the rubble of nearly 40 smouldering buildings and the abandoned encampments of antigovernment protesters.
A patrol roamed a site where a military assault on Wednesday broke up a rally by antigovernment demonstrators.

“The terrorists are still at work! Please leave the area!” said an announcement broadcast over a loudspeaker attached to the soldiers’ military vehicle. The soldiers said they were still searching for explosives and booby traps.

The death toll from a week of violence rose to 53 people killed, including 15 on Wednesday alone, and 399 people wounded, the vast majority of them civilians.
“Overall we have the situation under control,” said Col Sansern Kaewkumnerd, a military spokesman.

In a sign that the government remained concerned about further violence, a nighttime curfew was extended for three days, many roads in central Bangkok remained closed, and the management of the city’s subway system announced it would not reopen Friday.

Rare curfew
It was the first time that a curfew, which applies to Bangkok and 23 provinces, was put into effect in Thailand since another bloody suppression of protesters 18 years ago.
Three protest leaders, Veera Musikapong, Kokaew Pikulthong and Weng Tojirakarn, surrendered to police.

One leader whom the Thai press erroneously reported captured on Wednesday, Arisman Pongruengrong, remained at large, the military said.On Thursday, police officials negotiated the departure of what appeared to be at least 1,000 protesters who had spent the night in a Buddhist temple near the protest area. Security forces confiscated cleavers, knives and hammers and found grenades and rounds of ammunition. Inside the temple were the bodies of six protesters killed during the violence.