Monday, April 13, 2009

Troops crack down on Bangkok protests, dozens injured

Updated at: 1201 PST, Monday, April 13, 2009

BANGKOK: Thai troops fired warning shots and tear gas in clashes with petrol bomb-hurling protesters in Bangkok Monday, leaving 70 injured as the government launched a crackdown to enforce a state of emergency. The government said it would take measures to secure major ports and airports, a day after embattled Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva announced the emergency decree to curb protests against his four-month-old rule. In a televised address on Monday, Abhisit accused the supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra of stockpiling weapons and warned peaceful demonstrators to disperse before the government took further action. "Those who want to help the government restore normality can return home," he said. "The government has carefully mapped out a plan to implement the law." Abhisit said that 70 people were wounded, 23 of them soldiers, but rejected claims on a protesters' radio station that four had been killed. Troops first moved before dawn to secure Bangkok's busy Din Daeng intersection, with soldiers firing hundreds of rounds into the air after protesters pelted them with rocks and molotov cocktails. Soldiers were deployed at train stations and at strategic locations including the electricity authority. But authorities made no effort to clear the main body of some 10,000 so far peaceful protesters who defied the state of emergency and remained camped out at Government House, where Abhisit's offices in the capital are located.

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