BANGKOK, Thailand – Thailand’s prime minister declared a state of emergency in the capital today after street fighting overnight between supporters and opponents of the government left one man dead and dozens injured.
The violence – the most serious since the protests began – followed a threat by state workers to cut off water, electricity and phone service at government offices and disrupt flights of the national airline in support of protesters trying to bring down Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.
An announcement broadcast on all Thai television stations at 7 a.m. said Samak had decreed a state of emergency in Bangkok. The measure allows the use of military forces in policing activities, limits public gatherings, bans news reports that could instigate violence, and allows security officials to clear public roads, buildings and other areas. It would also permit the military to immediately oust the protesters occupying the prime minister’s premises.
A week of political tension exploded into violence early today between protesters seeking to topple Samak and mobs of his supporters.
Police were unable to stop the fighting, which eased up only after army troops with riot gear – but no guns – reached the scene.
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