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NEWS UPDATES 11 April 2010

Thailand reels from worst political turmoil in 20 years

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Bloody clashes between the government security forces and red-shirt protesters in the capital Bangkok on Saturday resulted in 20 deaths and more than 800 injured, according to local media reports.

A Japanese cameraman with the Thomson Reuters news agency was among those killed in Saturday's showdown between the two sides as the government troops attempted to reclaim the historic site near the government house.

National television NTB on Sunday broadcast footages of troops being shot at from the upper floors of the buildings in the Rajdamnoen area during the clashes. There were reports of M79 grenade being fired at the troops apparently by anti-government underground elements during the clashes.

On Sunday, Prime Minister’s Deputy Secretary-General Panithan Wattanayakorn announced on TV that there were a number of weapons being seized from the troops by protesters. He said there were more than 20 soldiers being taken hostage by the protesters.

As the army retreated late Saturday evening, thousands of protestors remained on the streets and were refusing to leave another rally site in the city business centre which they had occupied since a week earlier.

It was the country's worst political violence since 1992 and in Washington the White House called for "restraint by both protesters and security forces."

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva offered his condolences but refused to bow to the protesters' calls to resign.

"I and my government will continue to work to resolve the situation," he said in a televised address to the nation," he said in a televised address late Saturday.

Abhisit invoked emergency rule Wednesday after the Reds stormed parliament, prompting lawmakers to flee. The embattled premier has insisted he will not cede to the Reds' demand and call elections.

Tens of thousands of police and soldiers were mobilised to try to restore order, provoking an angry response from the red-clad movement. Arrest warrants have been issued for many of the senior leaders, but so far none is reported to have been taken into custody.




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