News / Asia

Thai Government Concerned Over Rising Casualties, Blames Militias for Violence

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid