Thomas Fuller, with Seth Mydans and Kirk Semple, wrote in the New York Times, published on May 19. The article reports the fact that, as soon as the protest leaders turned themselves in with the Police, angry protesters were at their peak for destruction. The results were catastrophic, with a low number of killed bodies. I personally feel that the report is accurate and fair to both sides.
Here are some excerpts:
Violence Spreads in Thailand After Crackdown
By THOMAS FULLER, SETH MYDANS and KIRK SEMPLE
This article was reported by Thomas Fuller, Seth Mydans and Kirk Semple and written by Mr. Fuller.
BANGKOK — A bloody crackdown in Bangkok by the Thai military set off rioting and arson attacks on Wednesday in several places across Thailand, threatening to expand unrest and further aggravate the deep rifts that have hobbled Thai society for the past four years.
Troops and armored military vehicles overcame grenade-wielding militants allied with antigovernment protesters in Bangkok, forcing the movement’s leaders to turn themselves in to the police.
The government declared a curfew in 24 of the country’s 76 provinces, a radical move underlined by its announcement that looters or arsonists would be shot.
Arsonists in Bangkok set fire to almost 30 buildings, the government said, including the country’s stock exchange, a massive shopping mall, two banks, a movie theater and a television station. Two city halls were set on fire in the provincial capitals when thousands of protesters reacted to news of the Bangkok crackdown.
It was a measure of Thailand’s spiraling political violence that the death toll in the crackdown — about 12 people killed and more than 60 injured — was less than the bloodbath that many had feared.
The leaders of the red shirts, who had roared into Bangkok on March 12 demanding news elections and calling for what they said was true democracy for the country, surrendered to the police on Wednesday afternoon to face charges of terrorism.
Their arrests and the dispersal of the crowd were rare victories for the embattled government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. But the volatile, defiant mood of the crowd on Wednesday also signaled a possible radicalization of a movement that leaders found difficult to control.
“We cannot resist against these savages anymore,” Jatuporn Prompan, one of the leaders, said on a stage inside the protest zone before turning himself in. He was booed by protesters who wanted to carry on.
“Please listen to me!” he pleaded to the crowd. “Brothers and sisters, I will use the word ‘beg.’ I beg you. We have to end this for now.” The call was not heeded, and protesters began setting nearby buildings ablaze.
Soldiers assaulting the upscale neighborhood where protesters had been gathered were repelled with grenades. One soldier said militants were firing the weapons from the high floors of apartment buildings in the area.
The crackdown began Wednesday morning after weeks of negotiations failed to disperse protesters, many of whom are followers of Thaksin Shinawatra, the prime minister ousted in a 2006 military coup. Soldiers clashed with militants, some of whom were armed with assault weapons. As troops approached, anxiety spread through the protest zone, which was in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Bangkok and home to many corporate headquarters, high-end shopping malls, luxury hotels and high-rise apartment buildings.
Protesters set fire to Central World, one of the largest department stores in Southeast Asia. On Thursday morning the mall was a blackened, smoldering skeleton. Some people in the area carried boxes of cellphones and other electronics, presumably from the mall.
Looting was also reported in other parts of the city. Protesters attacked several news outlets, which they accused of bias, forcing one television station off the air.
Go to read full report at NYTimes.com.