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Burning Bangkok emerges from curfew


5/20/2010

Residents and visitors in Bangkok were ordered to stay indoors last night under a government-imposed curfew, after rioters swept through the city yesterday setting fire to buildings. The curfew was imposed from 8pm on Wednesday night to 6pm this morning as authorities tried to reclaim the streets from a hardcore group of anti-government protesters who torched buildings in their retreat from an army crackdown.

Yesterday military intervention brought an end to the long-running demonstrations in the centre of the Thai capital, with the protest leaders surrendering to police. Pockets of resistance remained however, and several major buildings, including the huge CentralWorld shopping mall, were set alight. Last night an army spokesperson appeared on Thai television telling residents and tourists to stay indoors. Visitors whose flights departed during the curfew period were told they could travel to the airport, but were advised to keep all travel documents and identification on their person to display at army and police checkpoints. Travellers who were able to reach the airport may have been disappointed however; Bangkok Airways and Thai AirAsia cancelled more than 50 flights to and from Suvarnabhumi airport yesterday. Thai Airways however, announced that all flights would arrive and depart as scheduled.

Unrest also spread to the streets of Chiang Mai, Udon Thai, Khon Kaen, Ubon Ratchathani, and other cities yesterday, and the overnight curfew was extended to 23 provinces. Travellers are urged to check their government’s travel advisories and the status of their flights before travelling to Thailand.

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