Page last updated at 17:20 GMT, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 18:20 UK

Bangkok unrest as it happened: 19 May

The Central World shopping centre in Bangkok
A number of buildings have been set alight in Bangkok

Live coverage of events in Bangkok, as troops and anti-government red-shirts clashed following months of protests, showing the latest developments with breaking news and comment, your e-mails and Tweets and insights from BBC correspondents. All times are BST.

1813 The BBC is discontinuing this live update page for the night. For the latest developments, please go to our main news page.

e-mail sent in by reader

1805 Andy, Bangkok, e-mails: "I've lived in Bangkok for over five years and never have I seen the roads so quiet. Looks like everyone is respecting the curfew. Today from my balcony, I watched the skyline of Bangkok burn before my very eyes. The shock still hasn't sunk in yet".

e-mail sent in by reader

1755 Jesse Lerer in Bangkok, e-mails: "I live in the historic part of Bangkok and you would never know anything was going on if you didn't hear about it on the television. The majority of the city is operating as usual with the exception of tonight's curfew."


1754 yupkigirl tweets: "To the rest of the world, this may just be today's biggest news but to us who live in Bangkok, it's life. It's reality"

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1746 Hannah e-mails from Chiang Mai: "For most of the afternoon red-shirts were blockading Narawat Bridge, a major bridge in the city. Tyres and fire trucks were burned there, firecrackers were set off and shots were fired in the air.

"A couple of hours ago heavily armed soldiers showed up at the bridge and I am not sure what has happened since. Some banks on Tapae Road, which is in the heart of the tourist district, were also attacked.

"The military presence in the city has definitely been increased, we saw low flying helicopters over Chiang Mai this afternoon as well as more armed guards on the streets."

1736 Eve Li is a friend of Fabio Polenghi, the Italian photographer who died after being shot in the chest during the clashes. She told the BBC's Europe Today she had spoken to him on Tuesday night: "I was even asking him 'Do you have a helmet? Do you have a bullet-proof vest, or anything?' And he said he has a helmet, yes, but he doesn't have a vest.

"We were joking about this last night. I didn't foresee that it would be the last phone call that we would have"


1733 Bright99 tweets: "My brother and sister-in-law stand on Ascott balcony in Bangkok. Surreal atmosphere. Deadly silence in normally 24/7 traffic-jammed area."

1732 Central World has become one of the trending terms of Twitter - an indication of the global interest in this event.

1717 Noah Severs, who runs a jewellery factory in Bangkok, told the BBC: "From a business owner's perspective, the situation right now is far more volatile that it was when everyone was centralised, protesting peacefully in the centre of the city.

"Three weeks ago, Bangkok was still not dangerous. But now the government has started to disperse them they have eliminated the peaceful element who are going home, but you still have some 3,000 protesters unaccounted for who are going round Bangkok burning buildings.

"Right now it's anyone's game what's going to happen in Thailand.

1710 The BBC's diplomatic correspondent James Robbins says: "We're looking at a country with extremely polarised politics and a country which hasn't had a long tradition of stable democracy.

"In essence, both the red-shirts and the supporters of the government think they have been denied legitimacy - that the system has been manipulated against them in some way. It is a real crisis in politics in Thailand.

"That explains why this will be a hard road back for the Thai government, even if they've seen of the protest today."


1705 Vaitor tweets: "I'm still in red territory, cinema fire nearly erased, Central World still burning, infrequent shots around the temple."

1650 Sean Tipton, from the Association of British Travel Agents, told the BBC tourists staying in Thailand's southern resorts should not be affected by events in Bangkok.

"Where we send our customers to, hundreds of miles south of Bangkok, there haven't been problems. We have many people there having enjoyable times.

"The main issue for us as well is also Bangkok airport itself, which is perfectly safe. So if you're due to travel out you'll be flown into the airport, and then get a flight from there down to your resort, further south, and you won't encounter any problems."

e-mail sent in by reader

1645 Bangkok resident Ronnie Reid has been taking photos of the crackdown in Bangkok today. Having been in the city for 20 years, he said he wanted to "document today to remember it".

1641 The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has updated its travel advice for Thailand. It is now advising against all travel to Bangkok and all but essential travel to Chiang Mai.

1630 Sukhumbhand Paribatra, Bangkok's governor, tells CNN: "I cannot see the operation coming to a successful end without further violence and without further losses.

"I was hoping to have a more optimistic message but I cannot."

e-mail sent in by reader

1626 Kenneth from Sweden e-mails: "I'm staying at a hotel in Bangkok's Chinatown district. Smoke is currently rising from at least three locations in the city.

"The streets are deserted except from a few cars moving around. Very surreal to see such a vibrant city completely engulfed in silence."

1623 Mark Mackinnon, East Asia correspondent for Canada's Globe and Mail is inside Wat Patum, the temple where many protesters have taken refuge. He tweets: "We got all injured out in ambulances. Twitter may just have done this."

1620 Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva says he believes order will be restored in Bangkok.

"I am confident and determined to end the problems and return the country to peace and order once again," Reuters quotes him as saying.

1552 kirkaiya tweets: "This is the most eerie quiet I have ever seen Bangkok... thick smoke drifting outside, all dark around here. Very post-apocalyptic."

1547 The Erawan Emergency Medical Center says six people have died in Wednesday's violence - bringing the total number of people killed since 14 May to 43. Another 365 people have been injured.

1542 The New York Times has put together a page of videos and photographs apparently showing unrest in northern areas of Thailand.


1536 RichardBarrow tweets: "I am going to switch off my cell phone, go to bed and pray that all of this madness has gone when I wake up in the morning."

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1529 John Wigglesworth in Bangkok e-mails: "It has been pretty scary out there this afternoon. Things are a bit quieter now and the curfew has come into force.

"I don't see how the red army members can expect to garner sympathy from the people when they are looting stores and setting fire to buildings."

Lucy Williamson

1523 The BBC's Lucy Williamson in Bangkok says 23 provinces are now covered by the curfew. "There have been reports coming in all day of anger mounting, particularly in the north and east of the country and that's something the government will be keen to quell as soon as possible.

"The protesters weren't a unified group, there were lots of different people drawn from in and around Bangkok and the more rural provinces. The government has managed to disperse this protest but does not now want to see a nationwide rebellion in its wake."

1513 Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij tells the BBC he "absolutely" blames former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra - who currently lives overseas - for the unrest.

"Leading up to all of this and during the red-shirt protest he has on several occasions telephoned in rallying protesters - promising them the world if they could lead a red-shirt victory that would allow him to return to Thailand. How could I possibly interpret these phone calls? Every Thai has seen it."

1510 Paris-based media rights group Reporters Without Borders says it is: "dismayed to learn that Italian freelance photographer Fabio Polenghi, 45, was killed during last night's army assault on deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's "Red Shirt" supporters in Bangkok, and offers its condolence's to Polenghi's family".


1457 Mark Mackinnon, East Asia correspondent for Canada's Globe and Mail is inside Wat Patum, the temple where many protesters have taken refuge. He tweets: "More people will die inside Wat Patum unless we get ceasefire to get to hospital across the road."

1448Thailand's Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij tells BBC World News the curfew was in place to protect citizens: "Once the protest leaders decided to give themselves in, that apparently displeased a number of the hardcore elements within the red-shirts who subsequently went on an arsonist rampage around the city. And therefore in order to protect citizens, the government declared that it would be safer for all to declare a curfew from 8pm to 6am in the morning."


1444 Priya64 tweets: "Bangkok looks like a DEAD TOWN now. No cars to be seen... everything shut!... So depressing."


The BBC's Chris Hogg in Bangkok reports on the fires burning in the city


1424 Mark Mackinnon, East Asia correspondent for Canada's Globe and Mail is inside Wat Patum, the temple where many protesters have taken refuge. He tweets: "Somehow we're the only corros left in temple. People around us terrified. Red Cross can't get ambulance in to injured because of gunfire."

e-mail sent in by reader

1418 Jim, e-mails from Udon Thani in the north-east: "Today I heard a couple of loud bangs and saw a big plume of smoke. It was actually a government building that's been set alight. The government closed mobile communications and electricity for a while. It's kind of worrying. The centre is like a ghost town - shops are closed, there are security forces everywhere."


1410 Pokpong Lawansiri is a human rights activist studying at University College, London. He spoke to the BBC World Service's Newshour programme.

"The government is trying to say that the protestors are terrorists but it's quite clear when you look at the pictures of those who were shot, most of the protestors are armed only by rocks or slingshots. And out of the 72 protesters that were killed, these include two health workers, one Italian journalist, one woman and one 14-year-old boy. So it's clearly an indiscriminate attack on the protestors."

1400 The Thai government announces it is extending the curfew from Bangkok to 21 provinces, Reuters news agency says.


1357 Mark Mackinnon, East Asia correspondent for Canada's Globe and Mail is inside Wat Patum, the temple where many protesters have taken refuge. He tweets: "At least five wounded around me at makeshift medical centre in park behind Wat Patum temple, one a friend and colleague... gunfire continues."


1352 faintlyvisible tweets: "Lightning on the horizon, maybe a nice Thailand monsoon will calm the rampant protesters down."

e-mail sent in by reader

1337Ralph Kramer e-mails from Chiang Mai: "The main bridge over the river has been blocked with tyres which have been set alight, causing traffic chaos -apparently the city is paralysed.

"Helicopters have been hovering for some time and a curfew has been imposed."

1327 This BBC story has a day-by-day account of how events have unfolded over the past week.


1317 Vaitor in Bangkok tweets: "Small fires and destroyed shops around Siam Paragon, soldiers and firemen try everything to get in control!"

Vaitor has posted some pictures from Bangkok online here.

Rachel Harvey

1305 The BBC's Rachel Harvey in Bangkok says: "The Thai security forces have not yet got control of their own capital. There are still outbursts of violence around the city. Deptartment stores have been razed to the ground, banks too.

"The government is telling people to stay at home. People going to the airport are being told to carry passports or other ID to go through checkpoints. All vehicles are being carefully looked at. "

1302 randrush in Bangkok tweets: "Shelves being emptied & long lines at convenience stores around #Bangkok as people buy food & supplies in anticipation of curfew."

e-mail sent in by reader

1255 James Roberts in Chiang Mai, e-mails: "I am a teacher and was just informed that my school will be closed tomorrow as there are reports of unrest here.

"I've left the city centre now. I've seen closed shops and plumes of smoke from burning tyres - but not much else. I'm trying to stay away from trouble."

1246 Patrick Barta, the Wall Street Journal's South-East-Asia bureau chief in Bangkok, tells the BBC the authorities will be closely following reports of trouble around the country.

"There are also people outside of Bangkok who're very upset and so what we're going to be watching tonight is whether or not those people come out in large groups or if it turns out that really there are just a handful or a few hundred militants who are hardcore fighters but don't necessarily reflect the bigger population."

1235 Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn has warned the day could be followed by "another night of suffering".

"The government calls on everyone who is carrying out attacks to stop that action because their leaders have already surrendered and agreed to enter into national reconciliation."

1233 The vast Central World shopping centre has been completely destroyed by fire.

e-mail sent in by reader

1232 Adam from Bangkok e-mails: "I have just spent an hour cowered in the back of an office on Sukhumvit 83 after four bombs exploded outside. It's a similar scene around the city - it seems that angry Red Shirts are going on a violent looting spree."


1226 Mark Mackinnon, East Asia correspondent for Canada's Globe and Mail is inside Wat Patum, the temple where many protesters have taken refuge. He tweets: "Firefight outside temple escalating. Hundreds of people still sheltering inside....At least one person inside temple has bullet wound. No idea what happened. Gunfire escalating."

Chris Hogg

1217 The BBC's Chris Hogg in Bangkok says: "There are, of course, tourists caught up in this. They're being advised they can travel through the checkpoints as long as they have their passports and tickets.

"But there is obviously a real concern among the authorities that they need to keep a lid on this in the next two hours.

"Whereas a lot of the city is carrying on as normal there are particular difficult problems in different parts of the city and it's going to take several hours for the security forces to get on top of this."


1202 Archmania tweets: "Bangkok sky is now black....... So scared."

1158 The BBC's Lucy Williamson in Bangkok says: "As the sun goes down in Bangkok there's an uncertain atmosphere in the city. All day columns of black smoke have risen above the skyline as protestors set fire to buildings, including a luxury shopping complex and the Bangkok stock exchange.


"The government spokesman has appeared on television to announce a curfew. He said a few pockets of trouble remained but that overnight security forces would ensure all residents, including foreigners, were safe and secure.

"This has been a relatively clean operation but there are signs the protestors may be splintering."

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1148 Mike Barraclough e-mails from Chiang Mai, northern Thailand: "Just left the main city shopping mall as it closed down completely. Local radio stations telling everyone to stay home."


1145 Falangsas tweets: "Seeing my home country I love in such a state I just don't have words for this. I don't think the words even exist."

1144 The Bank of Thailand declares Thursday and Friday bank holidays and says all Thai financial institutions will be closed.

1142 One of the red-shirt leaders who surrendered earlier, Nattawut Saikua, said he had to do so to save lives.

"There are losses - injured and many deaths - and there's no sign this will end soon. I'd like to tell you even though we have made up our minds that we will fight to the death now we must make a decision together that we should not lose any more lives to this incident."

Vaudine England

1131 The BBC's Vaudine England in Bangkok says: " The government says its security operation is designed to secure the safety and security of the public and has already succeeded in clearing Lumpini Park.


"Troops have forced their way over several barricades, protesters in other parts of the city are setting off fires by dousing tyres and even cooking gas canisters in petrol.

"The protesters want to depose the government, which they say is illegitimate. The government says it has given every possible warning and opportunity for a peaceful resolution of this conflict but the time for talk is over."

e-mail sent in by reader

1131Tilly from Dubai e-mails from Bangkok: "It is very bad here. The fringe elements hiding under the guise of 'red-shirts' have spread throughout the city.

"Sporadic shooting along the main thoroughfares, banks on fire, burning tyres blocking major intersections. This is not over by a long way."

1125 The Thai authorities have ordered all television stations to broadcast only government-sanctioned programmes.

The news editor at Channel 3, Samran Chatto, tells AFP fire has engulfed the sixth floor of the building. "We are in a crisis situation now."


The BBC's Alastair Leithead surveys the aftermath in the protesters' camp

1120 The BBC's Alastair Leithead in Bangkok tweets: "Not seen or heard of 'snipers' in the central area. Not even fireworks now. Only a mob of thugs left behind, those not fled being arrested."

BBC News Online has a picture gallery of today's events in Bangkok.

1116 Fire department officials say the Channel 3 offices are on fire with about 100 people trapped inside.

"The building was attacked by the protesters and when we dispatched a fire truck it was also attacked. Now they have withdrawn so we have sent a fire truck again," a spokesman tells AFP.


1111 Freakingcat tweets: "Fire at electricity works still on...Rama 4 is a ghost street."

Chris Hogg

1105 The BBC's Chris Hogg in Bangkok says:

"Over the last hour four police trucks have driven past us with prisoners in the back handcuffed - in one of them the prisoners were monks. We've also heard of attacks on journalists throughout the city - some of the redshirts feel in particular the local journalists were biased against them in favour of the government. Journalists have been wearing green armbands to help them get through the checkpoints, but most have now taken them off because of concerns they are being targeted.

"We've had reports of gunfire directed at the police headquarters and other blasts - nobody knows if they are bombs or grenades. It's still a pretty tense picture here in Bangkok."


1103 Ren Robles tweets: "No matter what side of the political spectrum you're on, can we at least agree that violence IS NOT and SHOULD NEVER BE the answer?"

e-mail sent in by reader

1101 Jeffrey Lane from Melbourne, Australia, e-mails: We live very close to the Ratchaprasong protest site. A few hours ago we decided to leave our apartment but when we reached the main road we realised we were actually between the army and the red shirts. That was a hairy moment. Luckily we made it across the road safely and we later had a police escort out of the troubled area."

1059 Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanyagorn tells the BBC a political solution proposal is still on the table:

"The prime minister proposed a road-map and hopes that the demonstrators can join him in implementing this road-map. But the first thing we need to do today is security forces will move in and secure more parameters in the area, to make sure that they isolated the elements that are armed and violent."

1055 Jonny Thomson, a British man living in Bangkok, tells the BBC he is in the centre of the violence around the Victory Monument: "Since the red-shirt leader has handed himself in to the authorities, it's pretty much gone crazy in that two of the major shopping centres have been burnt. We're pretty much surrounded by fire after fire.

"About ten minutes ago we had to run inside because there were red-shirts with guns running outside our apartment from the army. There's constant gunfire and constant explosions."

1048 Ronnie Reid has sent us some pictures of today's unrest in Bangkok, including this shot of a fire underneath the elevated railway station - know as the Sky Train - at Soi Asoke.

Flames in Bangkok Thailand - image by Ronnie Reid

e-mail sent in by reader

1045 Matthew Farrer from Pathum Thani, north of Bangkok, e-mails: "Our school was evacuated this morning after warnings of grenade attacks on government buildings after the end of the Bangkok siege.

"The court house and police stations are expected to be hit in the next few days according to Thai teachers and we are being told to stock up on food and water."

1039 One Italian photographer has been killed in the day's unrest and several other foreign journalists have been injured.

Dutch reporter, Michel Maas, who was taken to hospital after being shot, told the AFP news agency: "I got shot from behind through the shoulder. It's just a flesh wound."

1038 The BBC's Vaudine England says the fires at Central World Plaza and at the Thai Stock Exchange are said to be petering out. The main stage area where the protesters were concentrated for six weeks is now mostly clear and people are cleaning up.

The question now will be how to persuade the protesters who still want to fight to go home.

1027 The offices of the state-run Channel 3 TV station have been attacked by protesters - the station is now off air.

The Associated Press news agency quotes a tweet from news anchor Patcharasri Benjamasa calling for help.

"News cars were smashed and they are about to invade the building."

1026 The Thai government has declared a curfew in Bangkok, to run from 2000 (1300 GMT) on Wednesday to 0600 on Thursday (2300 GMT on Wednesday). The curfew was announced on national television.

Chris Hogg

1018 The BBC's Chris Hogg in Bangkok says: "The concern is that although transport was provided for a lot of these protesters to be taken out of the area, the reality is that a lot of the other people who were on the streets and opposing the security forces have just melted away - nobody really knows what happened to them.

"This started off as a political protest but certainly by the end of it, it was unclear how many of these people were motivated by the original aims of the red-shirt protesters."

1010 Television footage shows yellow bulldozers clearing away some of the barricades around the red-shirts' camp.

e-mail sent in by reader

1004 Tony Prehn e-mails from Bangkok: "My street has been blocked by the troops by razor wire because the insurgents are roaming widely.

"The most militant ones are starting fires away from the centre and starting big fires. I can see big fires in the distance from my apartment block."

1001 The government says it has suspended its operations temporarily to allow people to leave the area.

0958 Unrest is also reported to have broken out in other parts of the country, with city halls attacked in Udon and Khon Kaen in the north-east.

Northern Thailand is a stronghold of anti-government sentiment.

0950 Australian Jarrod Stenhouse, who works in Bangkok tells the BBC: "Helicopters are flying over my apartment on their way to disperse tear gas.

"The sky is full of black smoke and all you can smell is burning tyres."

Read more eyewitness reports

Vaudine England

0942 The BBC's Vaudine England in Bangkok says fires are burning in points over the centre of the city, including at the capital's stock exchange.

One group of red-shirts in the north of the city has declared itself independent of the protest leader who surrendered.

0941 The Central World shopping centre - one of the largest malls in Asia - is on fire.

0935 Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn has said security forces are in control of the area around Lumpini Park.

He tells a news conference: "We would like to reaffirm you that our security operations are designed to provide safety, security for all residents in Bangkok."

Lucy Williamson

0933 The BBC's Lucy Williamson in Bangkok says four key red-shirt leaders turned themselves in at a police station: "The men arrived in a scrum of uniformed guards. A symbolic prize for a government that has dithered for weeks over how to handle them.

"Moments before the protest leaders had stood before their tearful supporters and told them they were surrendering after weeks of defiance. Before leaving the main stage they told them 'don't give up the fight'."

0931 Leaders of anti-government protests in Bangkok have surrendered and told supporters to end their rally. Their decision came after troops entered the protest area, storming their barricades in armoured cars. At least five people were killed. Some of the protesters say they will fight on. Fires and clashes are ongoing in parts of the Thai capital.

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