Bangkok descends from bustling city to war zone
(The Veil of Civilation is VERY THIN…Paul)
By Martin Petty
Sat May 15, 2010
Smoke billows from burning tires. Bangkok’s biggest streets, normally clogged by traffic, are guarded by troops behind razorwire, who fire on anti-government protesters, playing cat and mouse.
A cacophony of ambulance sirens, gunshots and thunderous explosions echo down the now deserted streets lined with office towers, malls and hotels. Huge columns of smoke curl above the buildings from tires that protesters have set afire.
Welcome to Bangkok, a tourist hot spot known for its cultural attractions, racy nightclubs and — now — scenes of anarchy more reminiscent of an apocalyptic Hollywood movie.
Thousands of armed troops struggled to throw a security cordon around Bangkok’s commercial center on Saturday battling protesters armed with petrol bombs, rocks and, according to the government, possibly guns and grenades.
Hopes of a swift end to the violence were dashed when thousands of protesters massed, and called for more to follow, at a working class neighborhood near the business district, where a temporary stage was set up on a truck, suggesting plans for a new sit-in were taking shape.
Authorities put up banners in parts of the business district warning people they were entering a “live fire zone.” Troops and snipers fired on the protesters, some of whom carried no weapons, witnesses said.
“They shot everything that moved,” said a foreign photographer who fled the scene after being holed up inside a nearby house for six hours.