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Bangkok cleans up and opens for business


Thailand's capital is getting back to business following last week's deadly street violence. The streets have been cleared of debris Monday, schools and businesses have reopened, and the stock market is trading again.


Thoroughfares which for six weeks had been occupied by Red Shirt anti-government protesters, who established a fortified encampment in the top shopping district, are again open to traffic.

The mid-March unrest left 88 people dead and nearly 1,900 injured.

The Reds, who are campaigning for fresh elections to replace a government they condemn as illegitimate, disbanded last Wednesday in the face of a military offensive that forced their leaders to surrender.

Enraged militants within the movement went on a rampage of looting and arson that left 36 major buildings ablaze including the stock exchange and Thailand's biggest mall, which is now in ruins.

Downtown Bangkok was scrubbed clean over the weekend in a frenzied operation involving thousands of city workers wielding brooms and power houses, as well as enthusiastic volunteers including foreigners.

The embassies of Australia and Japan, located near the disbanded Reds encampment, reopened while the United States said it would resume full services at its mission on Tuesday.

While Bangkok was fast returning to normal, authorities have extended a curfew in force in Bangkok and 23 other provinces, saying the measures would remain in place until Tuesday "for security reasons".

The Reds are mostly supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was removed in a 2006 coup.

A criminal court hearing on Monday was to determine whether an arrest warrant for
terrorism charges can be issued against Thaksin, who is accused of rights abuses.


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