Monday, November 29, 1999

Thai Govt mulls imposing curfew after death toll from clashes touches 24

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Bangkok, May 16 (ANI): The Thai Government is now mulling the imposition of a curfew after heightened tensions between security forces and Red Shirt protestors, who showed no signs of backing down.The clashes between the two have already claimed 24 lives and left 198 injured, 14 of whom are in critical condition. Over 50 people have been killed and over 1600 wounded ever since protests began 2 months ago."The best way for preventing losses is ending the rally as the protest is a condition that leads to violence, particularly when protesters equipped with war weapons," the Bangkok Post quoted Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as saying.Vejajjiva has also deferred the re-opening of schools, originally scheduled for Monday to May 24th for safety reasons.He has firmly maintained that there will be no recall on the issue of live-fire, and that though he regretted the loss of lives in the process, containment measures will continue."It's crucial that we don't turn back and allow those who violate the law, and establish armed militants, to intimidate the government," he said.The Red Shirts have been putting up fierce resistance, lobbing fireworks at security forces. They believe that the Vejajjiva administration is undemocratic and elitist and want their hero, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to be reinstated.Most of the protestors hail form poorer parts of Thailand, mainly north and north-east Thailand. Their fury and disillusionment reflects the abyss between the urban elite and the rural poor.The climate of the popular tourist destination is extremely charged, with Red-Shirt protesters comparing their agitation to a civil war, and are uncertain as to how the deadlock would end."The current situation is almost full civil war," said one of the protest leaders, Jatuporn Prompan. "I'm not sure how this conflict will end."The clashes have paralysed the normal lives of Bangkok residents with all commuter train services being suspended, and schools being shut. The hospitality industry of the once thriving tourist destination has also taken a severe beating. (ANI)

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