- Title: THAILAND: Thai army breaks through red-shirt barricade in Bangkok
- Date: 20th May 2010
- Summary: BANGKOK, THAILAND (MAY 19, 2010) (REUTERS) ARMOURED VEHICLE TURNING AROUND ARMOURED VEHICLE PUSHING THE BARRICADE ARMOURED VEHICLE DRIVING DOWN STREET NEAR BARRICADE SOLDIERS RUNNING ACROSS STREET SOLDIER STANDING PLUME OF SMOKE RISING TOP SHOT OF SMOKE RISING FROM HOSPITAL THAI NATIONAL FLAG / SMOKE IN BACKGROUND SOLDIERS LOOKING AT SMOKE TOP SHOT SMOKE FROM HOSPITAL ARMOURED VEHICLE ON THAI-JAPANESE BRIDGE SOLDIERS ON SKY-TRAIN TRACK SMOKE COVERING SKY-TRAIN TRACK
- Embargoed: 4th June 2010 13:00
- Location: Thailand
- Country: Thailand
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA6FC86NL6O96QAHVJM5SK0K2UZ
- Story Text: Thai army pushes through anti-government protest barricade made of tyres and bamboo sticks.
Thai troops and armoured vehicles broke through barricades of tyres and staves on Wednesday (May 19) in a fresh offensive to evict thousands of anti-government protesters from their fortified camp in central Bangkok, witnesses said.
With troops firing tear gas ahead of the assault, the armoured vehicles moved down a road toward an area where most of the estimated 3,000 demonstrators were rallying.
At least two people were shot in a gunfight in the spot where the military was coming in, one in the chest while trying to help a fellow protester. The demonstrators responded by firing at soldiers, a Reuters witness said.
Protesters ignited barricades of tyres and bamboo soaked in kerosene as the military vehicles and troops arrived, causing thick black smoke to billow high over skyscrapers in the area, and camouflage thousands of demonstrators who have occupied the heart of Bangkok's commercial district for more than six weeks.
Troops earlier used bullhorns and loudspeakers to urge protesters and civilians to leave, as military helicopters circled overhead.
"Please leave the site immediately. Officials are about to conduct an operation," a soldier said over a loudspeaker.
The military offensive came a day after the collapse of a proposal for talks aimed at ending five days of chaotic street fighting that descended into urban warfare, which killed 39 people and wounded nearly 300.
Troops followed that up with tear gas.
Leaders called on protesters not to panic and not to break into nearby buildings.
It was unclear whether the military was launching a long-anticipated operation to evict protesters or trying to first flush out women and children from the sprawling encampment where explosives, guns and grenades are thought to be stashed.
Unrest has been reported in other parts of the capital. Hardcore red-shirted protesters set fire on a government building and blockaded traffic in a northern suburb.
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