Thai protester scales hotel wall to evade capture
BANGKOK — Thailand’s political crisis took a surreal twist Friday when an anti-government protest leader scaled down a hotel facade with a rope to evade arrest and drove off with two police officers taken hostage by his supporters.
Arisman Pongruangrong’s escapade was the latest embarrassment for the government, which less than 30 minutes earlier had announced on national television that security forces were surrounding the hotel to arrest Arisman and other leaders holed up inside.
Authorities have tried without success to end a monthlong sit-in by tens of thousands of “Red Shirt” protesters in some of Bangkok’s most popular shopping and tourist districts. At least 24 people were killed last week when troops tried to clear one group of protesters.
Friday’s failed crackdown signaled the government was willing to risk another confrontation with the Red Shirts, who are campaigning to oust Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, dissolve Parliament and hold new elections.