Protesters halt Bangkok airport
Tuesday 25 November 2008
Bangkok airport was brought to a standstill by anti-government protesters today.
Flights at Suvarnabhumi International Airport were temporarily suspended shortly before hundreds of demonstrators - some masked and armed with metal bars - broke through police lines and spilled into the passenger terminal.
Airport manager Serirat Prasutanon said airport authorities had tried to negotiate with the protesters "but to no avail."
"For the safety for passengers, we have to stop flights out of the airport temporarily until the situation returns to normal," he said in a statement, adding that incoming flights were still operating.
He said the governor of Samut Prakan province, where the airport is located, had asked the army to help police.
Travelers seemed bewildered by the turn of events.
"This is the first time I have seen anything like this. I am glad that it did not turn out violent," said Daniel Garmona, a tourist from North Carolina who was waiting for a flight back to the US
Using trucks and cars, demonstrators cut off road access to the airport, the transportation hub for millions of tourists who visit the country each year.
The airport siege followed a clash earlier in the evening between opponents and supporters of Thailand's government.
Members of the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy were returning from a rally at the smaller Don Muang airport, when government supporters threw rocks at their truck.
Alliance members responded by firing catapults and a half-dozen shots with two pistols from their truck.
The footage showed the alliance supporters surrounding a motorcycle taxi driver and putting a knife to his throat. After the driver fled, the protesters battered several motorbikes with steel bars and set fire to another one.
The clash was the second time in recent months that the two sides have fought and marks the first major violence since October 7, when street battles with police and anti-government forces left two people dead and hundreds wounded.
In a September clash between the two sides, a government supporter was beaten to death, while two alliance members were killed last week in grenade attacks.
Political tensions that have been simmering since 2006, when a similar protest campaign against then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra led to him being deposed by a military coup.
Tensions heated up further with the current effort to force Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat to step down. The protesters accuse him of acting as a proxy for Thaksin, his brother-in-law.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...
£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...
£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...