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2ND LD: 1 killed in clash between Thai protesters, emergency decree issued+
[September 01, 2008]

2ND LD: 1 killed in clash between Thai protesters, emergency decree issued+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) BANGKOK, Sept. 2_(Kyodo) _ (EDS: UPDATING WITH EMERGENCY DECREE)

At least one person was killed and 42 wounded in a clash Tuesday between government supporters and antigovernment protesters in Bangkok, prompting Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to issue an emergency decree in the capital.

The clash took place early Tuesday at a site near the headquarters of the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. People's Alliance for Democracy members have staged antigovernment protests there since May 25.

At least three of the injured, who include six women, were shot, according to Petchphong Kamchornkitchakarn, chief of the Erawan medical center.

Nine men remain hospitalized, he added. Most of the victims suffered cuts and bruises from being hit by hard objects.

Army Commander in Chief Gen. Anupong Paochinda promptly deployed four companies of riot-control troops with only helmets and shields to join police to ward off the crisis.

Local television aired footage showing hundreds of government supporters wearing red T-shirts, scarves and headbands marching toward the PAD site and the clashes happening.

PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang blamed police for letting the government supporters attack the PAD activists.

Chamlong, who led the other, larger group of activists inside Government House compound, said 300 PAD men were deployed to help defend the other PAD activists at the clash site.

Chamlong said that despite the emergency decree, the PAD would continue to sit in Government House.

The PAD has besieged Government House, containing the prime minister's office, since Aug. 26 in a bid to overthrow the elected government led by Samak.

Suriyasai Katasila, another PAD leader, argued it is a conspiracy letting the clash happen so that an emergency decree could be imposed to eliminate the PAD movement.

At the clash site, known as Makawan Bridge, several shots were heard and several dozens of people were sent to hospital by ambulance, Suriyasai said.

In local television footage, Maj. Gen. Khattiya Sawaddhiphol was spotted walking in the front row of the government supporters heading for the PAD activists.

Khattiya later admitted on a TV news program that he was among the demonstrators but declined taking part, saying he was there to observe.

Wiphuthalaeng Phattanaphumthai said he led the pro-government demonstrators to march from the grounds in front of the Grand Palace toward the Makawan Bridge with attempts to disperse the PAD activists.

"We want the PAD to end the protests without any conditions," Wiphuthalaeng said.

Shinawat Habunphat, another pro-government leader, said he led some 3,000 men to encircle Government House to pressure the PAD.

More people are on the way to Bangkok to join in pressuring the PAD, Shinawat added.

After the troops arrived at Makawan Bridge and police were reinforced in the vicinity of Government House, the situation was stabilized.

The PAD has continued marathon protests against Samak's government since May 25, accusing him of being a proxy of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who, together with his wife and three children, fled to London earlier this month.

Tensions have risen since PAD protesters entered the Government House compound Aug. 26.

Since then there have been clashes between police and PAD activists at both Government House and Bangkok police headquarters.

PAD supporters outside the capital have also disrupted rail and air services over the last five days.

On Monday, labor unions of state enterprises announced they would go on nationwide strike Wednesday and cut utilities for government offices to mount pressure on Samak to resign.

Sawit Kaewwan, secretary-general of the federation of state enterprises' labor unions, said at a news conference Monday that 200,000 members of all 43 unions would go on strike Wednesday if Samak remains in office.

Water and electricity for government offices will be cut, Sawit said, adding the priority targets are all police stations in Bangkok and the prime minister's residence.

Sawit said the unions would do their best to avoid affecting the public at large.

Copyright ? 2008 Kyodo News International, Inc.

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