Thai govt claims protests down


The Thai government declared on Thursday it had mostly quelled 10 weeks of violent protests in the capital as buildings still smoldered, troops rooted out small pockets of resistance and residents attempted to return to normal life. But a nighttime curfew was extended in Bangkok and 23 other provinces for three more days.

Troops and die-hard anti-government protesters exchanged sporadic fire in parts of the city after the military operation the day before cleared most of a protest encampment in the center of the capital, leaving 15 dead and 98 wounded.
A special police unit on Thursday led more than a thousand people — many of them women and children — away from a Buddhist temple in the heart of the former “Red Shirt” protest zone. Six bodies were found on its grounds.
Three more Red Shirt leaders surrendered to authorities on Thursday. Five leaders gave themselves up the day before and were flown to a military camp south of Bangkok for interrogation. “I’d like to ask all sides to calm down and talk with each other in a peaceful manner,” said Veera Musikapong after being taken into custody on Thursday.
But a branch of Siam City Bank was set afire, the first reported arson attack after 39 buildings were torched the day before. According to state-run television, a firefighter was shot and wounded on Thursday while trying to put out the flames at a shopping center. Nation Television reported one person was killed and 14 wounded in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen, one of several provinces where protests erupted on Wednesday.
Thai media reported protesters set fire to government offices in the city of Udon Thani and vandalized a city building in Khon Kaen. TV reports also showed troops retreating after being attacked by mobs in Ubon Ratchathani, and more unrest was reported in the northern city of Chiang Mai, Thailand’s third-largest. The curfew was the first for Bangkok since 1992, when the Army killed dozens of pro-democracy demonstrators seeking the ouster of a military-backed government. —AP


France says will try to gag Thaksin
Paris, May 20: France said on Thursday it would try to prevent former Thai Premier Thaksin Shinawatra from speaking out on the political crisis in his homeland while he is on its territory.
“Given the violence in Thailand ... we have told Mr Thaksin, who is on a strictly private visit to France, that he should abstain from any public appearance or statement on our territory,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.
The ministry was reacting after a think tank issued an invitation to journalists to meet Mr Thaksin. —AFP

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