Thai protesters attack Bangkok police HQ
Sunday, 31 August 2008

REUTERS, BANGKOK- Protesters trying to overthrow Thailand's government launched an attack on Bangkok's police headquarters on Friday as demonstrations against Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej spread from the capital.

Several demonstrators were seen vomiting after police fired what appeared to be teargas at the 2,000-strong crowd, a Reuters reporter said.
 
Protesters forced the closure of airports in the southern tourist destinations of Phuket and Krabi, and disrupted rail services on a fourth day of anti-government protests.
 
In Bangkok, where protesters have been occupying the prime minister's compound since Tuesday, some of Samak's advisers pushed him to impose emergency rule, two government sources said.
 
"It has been proposed as an option to him," one source, who declined to be named, said.
 
They said Samak had earlier met top military and police officers to discuss the escalating protests, led by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which have sparked fears of major violence and rattled investors.
 
A state of emergency would allow the government to deploy soldiers to disperse the protesters, although army chief Anupong Paochinda said the situation did not warrant it.
 
Less than two years after a coup against former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Anupong said another putsch would not resolve the deep divisions in Thai society.
 
"A coup would not solve anything. It will hurt the country's image and worsen the country's situation," he told reporters.
 
There was no immediate comment from Samak, who faced new pressure as the PAD blocked roads to the airports in Phuket and Krabi.
 
State rail workers began a strike that halted 30 percent of services nationwide, a union spokesman said, and similar action was being considered by unions at other state agencies.
 
Thai shares have fallen 23 percent since the street campaign began in May amid fears of everything from policy paralysis at a time of stuttering economic growth to bloodshed on the streets.
 
"JUDGMENT DAY"
 
Earlier, riot police scuffled with demonstrators barricaded inside the PM's compound as they delivered an eviction order against the group, whose campaign to oust the government is now three months old.
 
"We are trying to deal with the protesters as gently as possible," police spokesman Surapol Thuanthong told reporters.
 
After the scuffles, the Civil Court retracted its eviction order while the PAD appealed against the ruling.
 
The PAD, whose 2005 protests against then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra contributed to his removal in a coup a year later, urged more supporters to gather until the current elected administration fell.
 
"Today is the Judgment Day. It is the People's Revolution and we must win," PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul told the cheering crowd from atop the rock-concert-like platform that now sits on the PM's front lawn.
 
Nine PAD leaders have been charged with insurrection, a crime that can carry the death penalty, after violent raids on government offices and a state TV station on Monday.
 
The motley group of businessmen, academics and activists launched the street campaign on May 25, accusing Samak's coalition government of being an illegitimate proxy of Thaksin, now in exile in London.
 
The PAD also proclaims itself to be a defender of revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej against a supposed Thaksin plan to turn Thailand into a republic -- a charge vehemently denied by both Thaksin and the government.
 
The group have barricaded themselves in the 11-acre compound behind razor wire and car tires. Sentries armed with bars and golf clubs poured a mix of gasoline and shampoo across the road, turning it into an ice-rink.
 
At the barricades, PAD supporters held aloft pictures of King Bhumibol, shouting "We love the King. We love Thailand". Inside the compound, thousands sat on plastic sheeting, clapping and cheering speeches by the group's leaders.

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