News / Asia

Thai Government Concerned Over Rising Casualties, Blames Militias for Violence

Multimedia

Audio

The Thai government has expressed concern over the rising toll from security operations in the capital Bangkok, and blames armed militias for the violence. At least 24 people have died since the government began efforts to clear anti-government protesters out of their camp in the city center.

Listen to Schearf's first live report:

Listen to Schearf's second live report:

Fighting continues sporadically on Saturday, with repeated explosions and gunfire heard from the protest zone in Bangkok.

Red-shirt protesters Saturday took over a key highway intersection on Bangkok's outskirts, and there were clashes at a city monument a few kilometers from their Rajaprasong camp site.

Diplomatic sources told VOA that Western embassies have been warned of possible grenade attacks on department stores, intended to draw security forces away from Rajaprasong.

Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn says while the government is worried about the casualties, security forces now face attack from armed red-shirt militias. And Thai television showed red shirts surrounding army trucks and forcibly removing the soldiers and taking their guns.

"We are very concerned and the operations will be adjusted as we face strong resistance from several groups of people attacking the checkpoints - it is very unusual to have groups of people with weapons attacking the check points. This is not a normal situation," he said.

At the Rajaprasong site Saturday speakers continued to attack the government over the violence.

A police officer at a hospital close to where red shirts rested said the two sides need to reopen talks.

The officer says the red shirts still want new elections and the lifting of the emergency security decree. The red shirt leaders hoped that after being arrested they could be granted bail. But many within the protest site fear the army will soon attack.

The international community has expressed concern about the situation. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called on both sides to return to dialogue to "de-escalate the situation and resolve matters peacefully".

Panitan, the government spokesman, says the foreign minister will contact embassies to provide updates o the current situation. But he said it is a "domestic matter".

"We hope that they understand that this is a domestic matter," he said. "We hope not only [that] the international community understands, [but] that they will support us. This is a threat to our national security. This armed militia gunmen - it's a new phenomenon in the Thai politics."

The red shirts began their protest two months ago, demanding immediate elections because they consider the current government to be illegitimate.

Two weeks ago, the government offered a compromise that included November elections and it appeared the protest might end. However, talks fell apart over how several episodes of violence in April would be investigated.

Many red shirts support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a coup in 2006. He now lives overseas to avoid a prison sentence for corruption. Mr. Thaksin remains popular among the urban poor and working class, but the urban elite and middle class consider him corrupt.

The protests and violence are the worst political crisis in the country in 18 years and threaten to create broad instability in the country.


You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid