Monday, September 1, 2008

Thailand declares state of emergency in Bangkok

BANGKOK -(September 2, 2008 - 10:15AM)- Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej declared a state of emergency in Bangkok today, state radio announced, hours after clashes between opponents and supporters of his government left one dead.

Samak appointed the powerful army commander General Anupong Paojinda as chief of a new team tasked with enforcing the emergency decree, with Bangkok's police chief and the capital's regional army commander as his deputies.

Gatherings of more than five people have also been banned in Bangkok, under the emergency decree.

The announcement on state radio said the emergency decree gave army chief, General Anupong Paojinda, the power to break up any gathering and to force people to leave any location.

"By invoking this emergency decree, Anupong can ban people from entering any specific place and can evacuate people from any specific place,'' the announcement said.

Embattled Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, who has faced mounting calls for his resignation, appointed Anupong as chief of a special team tasked with enforcing the emergency decree.

Thai police called in army reinforcements early today as thousands of pro- and anti-government protesters clashed in the capital, leaving one dead and dozens injured, officials and local media said.

Thai television showed protesters wearing helmets and carrying batons running though the streets, fighting with each other and throwing rocks, as people lay bleeding on the street.

The violence occurred not far from where about 15,000 demonstrators have been besieging the main government compound for a week, demanding that Samak step down.-AFP

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