Soldiers clash with Bangkok protesters, 68 wounded (Lead)

April 13th, 2009 - 11:37 am ICT by IANS  

Abhisit Vejjajiva Bangkok, April 13 (Xinhua) At least 68 people were wounded when soldiers and anti-government protesters clashed in Bangkok early Monday, 14 hours after the Thai prime minister declared a state of emergency in the capital city.
The clash occurred around 4.30 a.m. Monday when some 300 so-called red-shirt protesters used a seized bus to crash into soldiers stationed at Din Daeng District in north Bangkok, Army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said.

Soldiers fired warning shots in the air and used teargas to disperse the protesters after failing to persuade the protesters to stop, Sansern said.

The health department of Bangkok Metropolitan Administration announced Monday that a total of 68 people were injured. All of them were discharged except two who were at the Rajvithi and another two at Ramathibodi Hospital. No deaths were reported so far, an official of the department said.

Earlier, a doctor with the Narenthorn Emergency Medical Institute, Thailand’s national emergency body, put the number of wounded at 49.

The army spokesman also said the situation has been brought under control to some extent. “Similar operations will be carried out in other areas,” he said.

Army Chief General Anupong Paojinda refused to comment on the incident, adding that he will learn more about it first.

At about 6.15 a.m. Monday, ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra told the “red-shirts” to continue fighting in a phone conversation with a core leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).

Sunday afternoon, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in Bangkok and some districts of five nearby provinces, citing the escalating violence of red-shirted protesters.

The latest round of the anti-government protests led by UDD, has entered its 19th day. The UDD followers wear red shirts, while the government supporters wear yellow.

Red-shirted protesters Saturday stormed the venue of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit and related meetings in Pattaya, and forced them to be cancelled.

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