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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora