Armed Thai troops block Bangkok business district

Armed Thai troops block Bangkok business district

Thai troops armed with assault rifles moved into positions early Monday to block Bangkok's prime business district from thousands of anti-government protesters who have threatened to enter.

The government had earlier declared Silom Road, a thoroughfare studded with banks and office buildings, off-limits to the protesters who have camped in the capital's main shopping district nearby for weeks, AP reported.

Soldiers also patrolled the city's most famous bar strip, Patpong Road, and an entertainment area for Japanese tourists, which are just off Silom. Some took positions atop buildings after searching for possible snipers.

As Thailand's traditional New Year holiday ended, protest leaders had called for a mass rally Tuesday on Silom in their bid to oust Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. That has raised concerns of more clashes after savage fighting a week ago killed 25 people.

The military declared the city's main shopping boulevard unsafe Sunday because of large crowds of anti-government protesters, and soldiers were sent to nearby high-rises to watch for any violence.

The warning by army spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd was another blow for Thailand's vital tourism sector, which accounts for 6 percent of the economy and has steeply declined since the protests began March 12.

Sansern said military checkpoints were being set up at entry points to the capital and within Bangkok to try to prevent more "Red Shirt" protesters from reaching the main rally site. The area contains upscale shopping malls and five-star hotels that have been under virtual siege. At least six malls remain closed.

"The protest area is unsafe. Authorities need to control it by sending security personnel into the surrounding high-rise buildings," Sansern told a news conference. He said soldiers would help "prevent people with ill intentions from infiltrating the area."

The government accuses "terrorists" armed with guns and other weapons of orchestrating the earlier violence and says weapons were stolen from the military that have not been returned.

The protesters consist mainly of poor rural supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and pro-democracy activists who opposed the military coup that ousted him in 2006.

They believe Abhisit heads an illegitimate government because it came to power through a parliamentary vote after disputed court rulings ousted two elected, pro-Thaksin administrations. The conflict has been characterized by some as class warfare, pitting the country's vast rural poor against an elite that has traditionally held power.

Meanwhile, the rival, establishment-backed "Yellow Shirt" protest movement vowed Sunday to take action unless the government "strictly and efficiently enforces the law" to deal with the crisis.

The yellow-shirted protesters led months of anti-Thaksin rallies that led to the coup and their 2008 demonstrations shut Bangkok's airports for a week to protest a Thaksin-allied government. They retreated after Abhisit's arrival but many fear their return if he is forced out.

Abhisit has come under increasing criticism for failing to clear the protesters, but the government spokesman said Saturday there were no immediate plans for a crackdown because too many people were camped in the area to use force.

Sansern, however, said the army would not allow protesters to march to another location and would not tolerate more violence.

"We will not allow people to hurt police officers, soldiers or civilians again - or to seize military vehicles or weapons," he said.

The Red Shirt protesters, formally known as the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, want Abhisit to dissolve Parliament and call new elections. They were initially camped in a historic district of Bangkok, and a failed attempt by security forces on April 10 to flush protesters from that neighborhood erupted into the worst political violence Thailand has seen in 18 years.

At least 25 people were killed, including senior military officers. More than 800 people were wounded, including about 300 soldiers.

Since then, the protesters have consolidated in Bangkok's main shopping area, raising the stakes as they scare off tourists and rattle the stock market. Retailers and hotels say they have lost tens of millions of dollars.

Portable toilets and tents have been trucked in, and vendors line the streets selling food, sleeping mats, clothing and red-colored souvenirs such as T-shirts, headbands and baseball caps.

"The authorities have always tried to block people from joining us. But still we are getting more people," said one protest leader, Jatuporn Prompan, on Sunday.

Police have issued 24 arrest warrants for Red Shirt leaders accused of inciting violence, but so far none has been arrested. An attempt to arrest one leader Thursday was thwarted when he climbed over a hotel balcony and was lowered by rope to a crowd of fellow Red Shirts, who helped him escape.

Certain facilities launched in Iran’s water and electricity sectors
Certain facilities launched in Iran’s water and electricity sectors
Eni lowers oil&gas output amid COVID-19, OPEC+ commitments
Eni lowers oil&gas output amid COVID-19, OPEC+ commitments
Iran to boosts gas production
Iran to boosts gas production
Loading Bars
Certain facilities launched in Iran’s water and electricity sectors
Belarusian airlines announces another suspension of flights to Turkmenistan
New York Times prepares article covering Armenian missile attack on Azerbaijani Barda
Eni lowers oil&gas output amid COVID-19, OPEC+ commitments
Azerbaijani General Prosecutor's Office assessing damage to liberated territories
Iran to boosts gas production
Armenia grew narcotic plants in occupied Azerbaijani territories - Ecology Ministry
Debris of missiles fired at Azerbaijani Barda (PHOTO)
Targeting innocent civilians shows that Armenia prefers cruel, hideous methods of warfare - Azerbaijani embassy in US
Equinor sees increase in natural gas sales volumes
Turkmenistan organizes charter flight from Russia’s Tatarstan amid COVID-19
TCCI meeting with special emphasis on 'Supporting Azerbaijan' to be held
Equinor’s liquids, gas production up due to new fields
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale October 31
Military equipment left on battlefield by Armenian Armed Forces (VIDEO)
Progress achieved in upgrading energy system - Int'l Energy Charter Secretary General
Solar panels to be installed on school roofs in Georgia
Artillery fire aimed at civilians is crime against Azerbaijani people, against humanity as whole - International Turkic Culture and Heritage Foundation
Uzbekistan reveals its COVID-19 data for October 29
Georgia expects increase in bread prices
Azerbaijani-Turkish unity and strategic alliance have today reached highest level - President Ilham Aliyev
Nokia's third-quarter results miss expectations
President Ilham Aliyev sends congratulatory letter to President Erdogan
Equinor reduces output from Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli block
High-ranking Armenian officers annihilated - Azerbaijan Defense Ministry
ICRC gives statement on Azerbaijani volunteer killed as result of Armenian shelling
Armenia's attacks on civilians discussed during Baku-Istanbul teleconference held be Trend News Agency (VIDEO)
Azerbaijani FM holds phone conversation with British minister
Iran must support to Azerbaijan fully - Iranian MP
War call of Armenian catholicos is beyond church canons - Albanian-Udi community's head
Oil inches up after 5% slide overnight as hurricane shuts U.S. output
Iranian currency rates for October 29
Armenian Armed Forces fired on Azerbaijan's Goranboy, Tartar districts - MoD
IFRC volunteer killed in Barda as result of Armenian shelling - top official
Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan to strengthen co-op by increasing volume of export-import operations
Footage of Gubadli region's Giyasli, Saryyatag villages liberated from occupation unveiled (VIDEO)
SOCAR expected to see 25% haircut to cash
Assistant to Azerbaijani President due in Barda, Tartar together with diplomatic corps
Switzerland supports territorial integrity of Azerbaijan - Switzerland's FM
SOCAR's liquidity to remain manageable, if its operations continue uninterrupted
Phone conversation held between Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, EU High Representative
SOCAR’s assets, exports not to be damaged from Karabakh conflict
SOCAR’s EBITDA expected to decline in 2020
Destroyed military equipment of the Armenian army - LIST
Latest situation at front line on Oct. 29
OSCE PA to observe parliamentary elections in Georgia
New COVID-12 cases rise sharply in Kazakhstan, total exceeded 111,000
EU moves to avoid COVID shortages, ease trade
Supply of potential COVID-19 vaccines to start in earnest in April: EU's von der Leyen
Brazil reports 158,456 COVID-19 deaths
Hurricane Zeta makes landfall in Louisiana
Surge in coronavirus cases set to shake Asian markets
Iraq reports 4,043 new COVID-19 cases, 463,951 in total
5.6-magnitude quake hits 56 km WSW of Changuillo, Peru
France and Germany plunge back into lockdown as second COVID-19 wave sweeps Europe
Iran has condemned occupation of Azerbaijani territories from very beginning - Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister
Iranian-Azerbaijani relations have developed rapidly in recent years - Azerbaijani president
If Armenia does not withdraw from rest of occupied territories of its own free will, we will drive them away from there as well - President Ilham Aliyev
UNICEF makes statement on Karabakh conflict calling on to protect children
Iran is next to people and state of Azerbaijan - special representative of Iranian President
Karabakh conflict must be resolved within territorial integrity of Azerbaijan - Special Representative of Iranian President (EXCLUSIVE)
Armenia should know that no provocation can hinder Azerbaijan on its way to victory - MoD
Pakistani ambassador condemns Armenia's attack against civilians in Azerbaijan's Barda
Manpower of Armenian Armed Forces destroyed (VIDEO)
Management of Azerbaijani Emergency Situation Ministry arrive in Barda
Azerbaijani artillerymen destroying Armenian troops' manpower (VIDEO)
Armenian troops firing at Azerbaijani civilian population destroyed with precise fire (VIDEO)
Azerbaijani FM holds telephone conversations with OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs
First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva: Such barbaric attacks show that atrocities of Armenians have no limits (PHOTO)
President Ilham Aliyev receives delegation led by Special Envoy of Iranian President (PHOTO)
Azercell stands by people in Barda!
Pakistan’s National Assembly adopts resolution condemning Armenian aggression
Armenian leadership acts as if it lost its mind - Turkish Foreign Ministry
Azerbaijani FM, US deputy secretary of state hold phone talks
Armenia threatens not only Azerbaijan's energy security - energy minister
Freedom of speech suppression by Armenian lobby in France unacceptable - analyst
Azerbaijan provides footage of Armenian troops, military equipment being destroyed (VIDEO)
Ministry of Emergency Situations staff among civilians killed in Azerbaijan’s Barda
Natural gas supplied to village of Khulo of Georgian Adjara
Turkmen FM takes part in second session of India-Central Asia Dialogue
Children among dead, wounded in Azerbaijan’s Barda due to Armenian terror - chief physician
Armenia responsible for death of Azerbaijani civilians - Turkish presidential administration
Armenians think shelling of cities will force Azerbaijan to end war - Russian expert
Iran unveils volume of loans issued to Golestan Province
Azerbaijan destroys Armenian troops (VIDEO)
Azerbaijan expands list of settlements banned with entry-exit due to COVID-19
'Reporters Without Borders' condemns Armenian online attacks against French TV reporter
SOCAR Turkey may evaluate operational partnership for Aliaga port terminal
Shelling of residential areas in Barda once again exposes Armenia's terrorist nature - MFA
Uzbekistan expects GDP to grow in 2021
State budget of Georgian Adjara to up in 2021
Turkey says export of domestic mining products to Georgia down
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price starts to fall
Missile attack on Barda once again proves terrorist essence of Armenia - Turkish MoD
President Ilham Aliyev: Blood of Barda residents will not remain unavenged, aggressors will be given decent rebuff on battlefield
Tethys reveals 9M2020 production results at Upper Aptian on KBD-02 sites
Turkmenistan remains main gas exporter to China
France raises import of mining industry products from Turkey in September
Azerbaijan extends special quarantine regime
Iran strongly condemns Armenia's missile attack on Azerbaijan's Barda
All news