Violence in Thailand Erupts

The violence that's been brewing in Thailand since March came to a head.

May 19, 2010— -- Bangkok, a great sprawling city, was brought to its knees by violence today. The stock exchange was firebombed, a shopping mall burned and millions of people were warned to stay indoors.

The violence in Thailand has been going on for six weeks. Today, officials confirmed five protesters and an Italian news photographer were killed and at least 60 people were wounded.

Since the violence began in mid-March, at least 80 people have been reported killed and nearly 1,800 injured.

An Ultimatum

Today, the government gave the anti-government protestors, called Red Shirts, an ultimatum. Thai troops stormed the camps that protestors had made their home, crushing barricades with armored vehicles and opening fire.

Seven leaders of the protest surrendered to the government, infuriating their followers. They took their anger out across the city, setting off grenades and setting landmarks on fire. A cloak of black smoke shrouded the skyline.

Some of the worst violence happened near a Buddhist temple. Mark MacKinnon, a Canadian reporter, watched his colleague get shot in the leg.

"We were sort of trapped with everyone else in there," said MacKinnon. "There were seven dead people in the compound with us, 10 others on stretchers, including my colleague, and one guy who died in front of us."

MacKinnon called the violence tragic.

The past few months have been a black mark on the image of Thailand, a country known as a tourist mecca, a prosperous democracy and an ally of the United States.


Today, Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva promised order would be restored, but the violence continues to spread to other parts of the country.

The people of Bangkok and 24 other provinces remain under a curfew. It is the first time that Bangkok has been put under curfew since 1992, when the army killed dozens of pro-democracy demonstrators seeking the ouster of a military-backed government.

People arriving to the airport are being told to sleep in the terminal.

As a new day dawns, the city is bracing itself for what the morning will bring.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.