Friday, April 16, 2010

Thai Commandos Raid Protesters’ Hotel in Bangkok

Thai commandos staged a raid on Friday to capture some leaders of the anti-government protests that have gridlocked parts of Bangkok for more than a month, a senior government official said.

The official, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, said on national television that a special forces unit had surrounded the SC Park Hotel in downtown Bangkok, where some of the leaders have been staying. It was the first military action since a failed attempt to disperse the demonstrators last Saturday resulted in 24 deaths and hundreds of other casualties.

Initial reports from the government and from protest spokesmen on Friday indicated that some of the leaders had been captured while others had escaped, one by sliding down a rope from the hotel. Television footage showed a red-shirted man, identified as a protest organizer, Arisman Pongruengrong, using a rope to leave a third-floor balcony.

Two senior police officers were taken hostage by the protesters during the siege, The Associated Press reported, citing a national police spokesman. “As I am speaking, the government’s special team is surrounding the SC Park Hotel where we have learned that there are terrorists and some of their leaders hiding,” said Mr. Suthep, the deputy prime minister, whose portfolio includes security.

To read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/17/world/asia/17thai.html?ref=asia

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