Bangkok buildings ablaze after army evicts Red Shirts
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Seventeen fires are now reported in the capital. A TV station, a shopping centre and the stock exchange in Bangkok are reported to be on fire among, after the army cleared Red Shirt protesters from their camp in the centre of the Thai capital. Earlier their leaders told them to leave and the army declared that the situation was under control.
The offices of Channel 3 TV station were set on fire on Wednesday, trapping 100 staff inside, the fire department says. Earlier a major shopping centre and the stock exchange were reported to be in flames.
After a military operation against the demonstrators that left at least five people dead, at least four Red Shirt leaders turned themselves in after troops smashed through their barricades. They asked supported to leave the camp and go to an area where the government has laid on buses to take them out of the capital.
The government said earlier some others had already fled.
“I ask everyone to go home,” said Nattawut Saikuar in a television interview from the police station where he is in custody. “There will be police guarding the road and providing security for you. I hope that you can return home safely.”
The army said on Wednesday that the military operation against the rally base has been halted. Spokesman Sunsern Kaewkumnerd said the thousands of protesters now leaving the rally zone would be assisted in returning home.
They have occupied the encampment for six weeks.
“I know that you are suffering. Some of us are speechless. But we want to stop any more deaths here,” said Jatuporn Prompan. “I know that if the military comes here many of you will sacrifice your lives and we cannot stand to see that.”
“I know this is unacceptable to some of you, but we cannot stand against this cruelty,” said Nattawut.
The defence minister, General Prawit Wongsuwon, says a curfew is to be imposed in Bangkok.
Meanwhile, some 2,000 protesters set fire to Udon Thani provincial hall in the northeast of the country. The province’s governor says the situation is now under control.
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