Troops in Thailand have stormed a fortified protest camp, ending an occupation by anti-government “red shirt” activists.
But at least five people were killed in the showdown and, elsewhere in Bangkok, buildings including the Stock Exchange were set on fire.
Soldiers made an early-morning advance on the site in the commercial district, occupied for more than six weeks by thousands of red shirts. Top protest leaders were taken into custody. They had offered to surrender as the military marched in. Supporters urged them to fight on.
But no sooner had the authorities announced that the situation at the camp was under control than reports of violence emerged elsewhere. Town halls in north-east Thailand were torched. And, in the capital, a major shopping complex, a TV station and the Stock Exchange were ablaze, prompting the announcement of a night curfew.
Dozens of people were wounded in the clashes at the camp, including several reporters. One Italian photojournalist was killed.
Since the Red Shirt protests began in mid March, around 70 people have died in the violence. The army can claim victory in this latest battle but Thailand’s long-running power struggle looks sure to go on.