Accessibility links

Thai Curfew Extended, Cleanup Begins


City workers clean the anti-government protest area in Bangkok, Thailand, 20 May 2010

City workers clean the anti-government protest area in Bangkok, Thailand, 20 May 2010

The Thai government has extended an overnight curfew for three days as security in Bangkok remains uncertain after the army broke up an anti-government protest camp. The city has set about cleaning up from the months of protests and nearly a week of street violence.

City workers using bulldozers and trucks Thursday set about clearing away the debris left after the Thai army shut down the red-shirt protest camp in Bangkok's center.

Workers dismantled the protesters' barricades of rubber tires and bamboo poles near the start of Silom Road, the city's financial district.

Pratsarn, a supervisor from the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority, says it will take at least two days to clear the area, in part because the army must make it safe. He says the army gave the clearance for the cleanup crews after checking for unexploded materials.

Many of the red-shirt leaders had surrendered by Thursday, and urged their supporters to go home, but some protesters refused and resisted efforts to capture them.

The army reported small pockets of fighting in Bangkok Thursday, as it hunted down resisters. But overall, the city was calm, a day after the army used armoured personnel carriers to push into the protest camp at Rajaprasong, an upscale shopping and residential district.

At least nine people died during the operation, bringing the death toll to more than 70 since the protests began in mid-March.

Satish Sehgal is a Bangkok publisher who lives near the Bon Kai area, which saw intense fighting Wednesday. He says security in Bon Kai remains uncertain, so roads have not re-opened, because some red shirts remain active in the area.

"I believe [authorities] are only waiting to clear the area in Bon Kai because apparently some activists and some terrorists are still hidden in different buildings around that area," he said. "The army is still looking for weapons and explosives down Rajadamri Road. But other than that it is only matter of time that things get back to normal."

The government has extended the overnight curfew it imposed Wednesday on Bangkok and more than 20 other provinces for three more nights.

The red shirts, many of whom support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, had demanded that the government resign. They said they were denied their votes when Mr. Thaksin as ousted in a coup in 2006 and subsequent, elected, pro-Thaksin governments were removed by court rulings.

Mr. Thaksin, who lives overseas to avoid a prison sentence for corruption, warned the army crackdown may trigger violence elsewhere in the country. He has called for outside mediation to resolve the crisis, which the government rejects.

The government says Mr. Thaksin helped orchestrate the protests, a charge he denies.

XS
SM
MD
LG