Bangkok, Nov 30 (UNI) Civil chaos continued in Thailand today with law enforcement agencies unable to control protests that have shut down a key Asian air transport hub and driven the seat of government out of the national capital.
Violent clashes between anti- and pro-government groups continued with grenade attacks on anti-government protestors injuring over 40 people early today.
An anti-government TV station located in a popular foreign tourist spot came under renewed attack early today with grenades being fired and a prolonged exchange of gunfire reported.
Leaders of the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) insisted they would not end their occupation of Thailand's main international airport and the capital's domestic airport until Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat resigns.
The Prime Minister has not been able to enter the capital following his return from the APEC Summit in Peru and has temporarily shifted the seat of government to the northern city of Chiang Mai.
PAD cadres have defied a court order and the declaration of a state of emergency at the two Bangkok airports and beaten back police attempts to evict them.
More than 100,000 foreigners have been stranded in Bangkok by the PAD's forcible occupation of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi international airport and Don Muenag domestic airport a few days ago.
Some 700 international flights have had to be cancelled and the stranded passengers were being flown out of a military airbase 200 km southeast of Bangkok. Major international carriers have set up check-in counters at a number of Bangkok hotels.
Passengers were being driven to the Uta Pao air base near the coastal resort of Pattaya and there were reports of two km-long traffic hold-ups on the highway leading to the military air base.
The Tourism and Sports Ministry estimates it will have to spend about two billion Baht (35 Baht= one US dollar) to put up the stranded passengers in city hotels till they could fly out of the country.
According to a top government minister, the continued closure of the airports will lead to a sharp fall in tourist arrivals in Thailand this year and next and up to a million local jobs could be lost.
UNI XC PD BST0954