Security forces are in control of Bangkok city centre but smouldering ruins bear witness to rioting and fires that verged on anarchy.
Southeast Asia’s second-biggest department store was among the buildings torched amid fury at an army assault that ended an anti-government sit-in. Yet some Red Shirt activists still claim a moral victory.
“We are the winners now, for all over the world, we are the winner,” said protester Salisa Khottha. “They know what is true, what is real.”
But the fortified camp the Red Shirts had occupied in a commercial district for more than six weeks is no more. And some Thais are pleased the troops were sent in.
“I agree with what the government has done,” said Bangkok resident Sakorn Kamwongsri. “If they had ignored the situation and let the protesters continue, I think our country would be in a worse position. Even if the government used violence to end the protests, at least the country can recover very soon. I hope it will be better after this.”
At least 14 people, including an Italian photojournalist, were killed on Wednesday. Since the demonstrations for new elections began in mid-March, more than 70 people have died.
And, with unrest in the north too, curfews in 23 provinces and in Bangkok have been extended for another three nights.