Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Bangkok in flames as military loses control
Bangkok is in flames as the government admits it lost control when protesters set fire to key buildings in the city following a day of running battles with troops which left 12 dead and 60 injured.
Using live ammunition, troops dispersed thousands of Red Shirt protesters who had been camped in the capital's premier shopping and residential district for weeks. Five protesters and an Italian news photographer were killed in the ensuing gunbattles and about 60 wounded.
After Red Shirt leaders gave themselves up to police, rioters set fires at the Stock Exchange, several banks, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Electricity Authority, the Central World, one of Asia's biggest shopping malls, and cinema that burned to ground. There were reports of looting.
Rioters set fires at the stock exchange, electricity headquarters, banks and government offices. Siam Theatre, a much loved city institution, collapsed in flames. Hundreds of people had to be rescued from the burning headquarters of Channel 3 television. The death toll since fresh outbreaks of violence on Thursday now stands at 51.
The government issued "shoot on site" orders for a dawn raid as troops tried to disperse 2,000 Red Shirts who had been camped in Rajprasong, the capital's premier shopping and office district, for more than six weeks.