Fiery Thai tragedy has unfolded in massive military operation to storm Red Shirt protesters and clear them off Ratchaprasong rally site.BANGKOK IS BURNING!
Just after 3 p.m. Wednesday the Bangkok Post has literally sent a series of SOS - "Mobs Burn Bangkok", "Bangkok Post evacuated","Bangkok Post Reporters Evacuated" and "Reds Run Amok".
Its breaking news updates state Bangkok Post has ordered "all staff to leave the Bangkok Post building" in Klong Toey as angry Red Shirt protesters marched down Na Ranong Road about 200 metres away towards the Bangkok Post building.
Other Red Shirt protesters have broken into Bangkok Channel 3 television station and set fire to the building trapping at least 100 workers.They also set cars ablazed and set fires at the Stock Exchange of Thailand.
BANGKOK IS BURNING!
Thai Prime Ministersigned curfew order late Wednesday afternoon to restore peace and order.
At 4 p.m,Thailand's Center for Emergency Situation Resolution (CRES) has announced curfew in Bangkok and nearby cities.
It has also placed provinces in North and Northeast Thailand under emergency law.
Two days after Monday 3 p.m. deadline for protesters to stop and disperse,Thai authorities have run out of patience.
They moved troops and police backed by armoured personnel carriers (APCs) smashing through the fortified barricade of bamboo and rubber tyres reclaiming the strategic Lumpini Park.By late Wednesday afternoon they crushed the protest that turned into sporadic riots as they regrouped and set fires to at least 35 buildings.
From 8.30 a.m. Wednesday,the military assault to quell the revolt sent people fleeing for cover.Banks around the conflict area shuttered as hard-core critics defied the warning to clear out.
Like a volcano eruption,the Thai crisis has boiled over,blowing up with fires set in burning tyres sending up billows of black smoke in Bangkok's ritzy commercial and shopping hub.
Tempers flared in the Thai turmoil and internal strife with soldiers and police personnel and protesters battling it out in several locations,according to the Bangkok Post latest updates.
The Red Shirt protesters, who had escaped, moved out and showed their fury setting fire to old wooden building of the Udon Thani city hall.They repeated their demand for new Thai national elections.
By 3 p.m. Wednesday at least four more people were killed including an Italian journalist.
The Italian reporter died of a gunshot wound in his stomach,according to Director of Police Hospital Jongjet Aoajenpong.
More than 50 others were also injured.Among them are two journalists - a Dutchman and an American documentary film maker.
Most Red Shirt protesters,who have swarmed into Bangkok since Mqrch 12 to demand for Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to step down,dissolve the Thai Parliament and hold new Thai national elections,have vacated the rally site leaving about 5,000 leaders and hard-core followers still holed up there.
As the troops advanced,Thai opposition chief whip Witthaya Buranesir announced seven UDD leaders were ready to surrender to police Wednesday afternoon.
They are Jatuporn Prompan,Natthawut Saikua,Weng Tojirakarn,Wiphutthalaeeng Pattanaphumthai,Korkaew Phikulthong,Yosvaris Chuklom and Nisit Sinthuprai.
They have voiced their wishes to give themselves up at the Royal Thai Police headquarters,witnessed by the opposition party Puea Thai MPs.
The Puea Thai submitted a petition to Senate Speaker Prasopsuk Boondej calling for the removal of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva,Deputy Thai Prime Minister Suthap Thangsubon and Thai army chief General Anupong Paojinda from office for alleged "malfeasance under Article 270" of the Thai Constitution.
The petition,signed by "175 Puea Thai MPs" was submitted by Witthaya to Prasopsuk on urgent basis.
The opposition MPs alleged Abhisit,Suthap and General Anupong had ordered armed soldiers to break up the UDD protest "without care for their safety or damage to public property".
Earlier,Prasopsuk had tried unsuccessfully to get the government and UDD leaders to talk peace.
Meanwhile,as the conflict escalates,Prasarn Trairatvorakul,Chairman of the Thai Bankers Association,announced the decision of four major banks - Bangkok Bank,Krung Thai Bank,Kasikornbank and Siam Commercial Bank - to close all branches in Bangkok from 1 p.m. Wednesday "for the safety of clients".
On Friday,Pasarn,who is also president of Kasikorn Bank,announced that all shuttered commercial bank branches in Bangkok,except those set ablazed and damaged by rioters,will re-open on Monday (May 24).
Khan Prachuabraoh,president of the Government Housing Bank (GHB) had earlier closed the GHB branches located at Sukhumvit,Siam Square,Convent,Saint Luis 3 and Maitrichit near the Ratchaprasong area.
The Thanachart Bank (TBank) had also closed 21 branches around the area.
Sorasit Soontornkes,assistant governor of the Bank of Thailand (BOT) announced Thursday that banks would be allowed to open nationwide Friday,Saturday and Sunday after the military operation flushed out the Red Shirt protestors.
This is to facilitate financial transactions and cash flow severely affected by the political upheaval.
Security forces which have cordoned off the Ratchaprasong rally site,the gutted Central World Shopping Complex and parts of downtown Bangkok would take one or two more days to clear the barbed wires,barricades and mess in the area.
On Friday,Bangkok City Hall workers rushed to clear the huge mess of burned tyres,garbage and debris.