News Wrap: Thai Troops Crack Down on Anti-Government Protests
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HARI SREENIVASAN: A standoff in the streets of Bangkok, Thailand, escalated today. At least eight people were killed and more than 100 others wounded in clashes between Thai troops and protesters. And some of the violence edged closer to the U.S. and Japanese embassies.
We have a report narrated by Jonathan Miller of Independent Television News.
JONATHAN MILLER: The heart of Bangkok, the heart of the war zone, this now the deadliest violence in nearly two decades. Here, the nation’s polarized political forces are colliding head-on.
They have seemingly irreconcilable differences, and there are real fears about what the future might hold.
ARISMAN PONGRUENGRONG, anti-government protester (through translator): This is an illegal use of force as ordered by the government of Abhisit Vejjajiva. They should be responsible for those wounded and dead. This is clearly a use of war weapons on the people.
JONATHAN MILLER: This escalation triggered by the attempted assassination last night of the Red Shirt protesters’ Rambo-esque head of security, a renegade army general. He was shot in the head by a sniper and now lies in a coma.
The Red Shirts want the government, dominated by a middle-class metropolitan elite, to resign. But to cast the protesters as made up of rural, poor and the urban underclass is too simple. The fissures dissecting society cut through the rich-poor divide. Ideology doesn’t really come into this, either, just two rival patronage networks clashing. There’s been no word from Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva today. He’s under huge pressure to end the protests. The army’s continued to corral and besiege the protesters, who include women and children, inside their fortified camp.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The standoff has lasted two months, and, in that time, the death toll has reached 37.
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Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Jim.