Thai troops mobilizing to disperse red-shirts in Bangkok

09:49, May 19, 2010      

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Anti-government protesters hide behind thick smoke rising from a burning barricade at the site where they clashed with Thai troops near the Victory monument in Bangkok May 18, 2010. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

The troops are building up in several locations in Bangkok at about 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, ready to disperse the red-shirts who have been rallying at the downtown Ratchaprasong area since early April and defied a deadline to leave.

The live TV reports show that armored personnel carriers (APCs) with machine guns mounted on top came up at the Silom business district, south part of the sealed-off zone by the troops. Several trucks dropped off troops wearing balaclavas and carrying weapons and riot shields, and the soldiers shot in the air to urge the protestors to leave the rally sites.

Hundreds of armed police were forming lines in Sukhumvit Road, a main thoroughfare leading into the protest zone, backed up by some 20 police vans on the roadside.

Military helicopters are hovering above the Ratchaprasong area, which has been sealed off by the troops since May 13.

All the hospitals in Bangkok have prepared themselves to admit possible injured people, the TV report said.

Thousands of red-shirts remain at Ratchaprasong though earlier the government set a deadline demanding all the protestors to leave Ratchaprasong by 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Nattawut Saikua, a co-leader of red-shirts, said Tuesday morning that he accepts an offer by the senate speaker to mediate peace talks between the anti-government protestors and the government, as long as the troops withdraw.

The government, however, insisted peace talks is possible only after the red-shirts end the rally and leave Ratchaprasong.

The clashes between troops and the red-shirts around the sealed- off zone since May 13 have killed at least 37 death and injured 282.

Source: Xinhua

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