May 19 (Bloomberg) — Thai security forces backed by armored vehicles seized control of a protest site in central Bangkok and detained several of the group’s leaders after a six- week standoff.
“We want to announce an end to the protest,” Nattawut Saikuar, one of several Red Shirt leaders, told supporters in a live broadcast from the camp’s main stage. “We want to stop more injuries and deaths,” he said before rushing off to the sound of sporadic gunfire.
Police escorted protest organizers from the area, TNN News footage showed. The government is offering safe passage to people wishing to leave the main encampment, spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said earlier today in a televised broadcast.
Street battles in the past week between security forces and demonstrators killed more than 40 people, worsening Thailand’s deadliest political turmoil in almost two decades. The Red Shirts, who view Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s rule as illegitimate, drew thousands of supporters to their two-month protest, underscoring the nation’s widening class divide.