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Thai protesters break into government TV station


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August 26, 2008

Thai protesters break into government TV station
Thai protesters twice stormed a government-run television station on Tuesday, forcing it off the air as thousands rallied in the capital to push Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to resign, AFP reported Tuesday.

The National Broadcasting Service of Thailand (NBT), formerly Channel 11, briefly showed images of protesters breaking down a barrier at their Bangkok headquarters before blacking out. The station then began showing pre-recorded footage.

Sondhi Limthongkul, leader of a coalition of anti-government groups, told protesters gathered at a separate Bangkok location that they had seized the channel.

"Now we have completely taken over NBT and I want more people to join them," Sondhi said.

In the early hours of Tuesday, police arrested 80 anti-government demonstrators for trespassing at the NBT headquarters, seizing a handgun, slingshots and golf clubs.

"They cannot claim their right to rally under the constitution because armed protesters intruded into a state office," said General Jongrak Juntanont, deputy national police chief.

Hundreds of protesters from the so-called People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) also surrounded Government House, using trucks to block the entrances.

Thousands more waving national and royal flags are on the march to the nearby transport ministry. Protesters said they also intend to blockade other key government buildings.

The PAD has been protesting since May, demanding that Samak step down. They claim he is running Thailand on behalf of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and banned from holding political office.

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