Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thai Protest Leaders Elude Capture by Thai Commandos

In a new humiliation for the Thai government, several leaders of the red-shirt protest movement escaped from a hotel on Friday after it had been surrounded by security forces — even as a deputy prime minister was announcing the raid live on television.

The raid was the first aggressive action by the government since a failed attempt to disperse the rallies last Saturday that resulted in 24 deaths and hundreds of other injuries. The police were overwhelmed by throngs of red-shirted protesters who have occupied parts of Bangkok for a month, demanding that the government resign and hold new elections.

In response, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva announced that he was appointing the army commander, Gen. Anupong Paochinda, the sole commander of what had been a civilian-military security office, in effect putting security operations entirely in the hands of the military. Mr. Abhisit said the move was necessary because the protesters had been infiltrated by what he called terrorists who were threatening national security. “We want to see peace,” he said. “Sometimes you need patience. Sometimes you need tolerance. The government will not stop working toward peace.”

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