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Thai protesters storm hospital
A major Thai hospital shuts down after being stormed by Red Shirt protesters.
Last Modified: 02 May 2010 04:20 GMT
Chulalongkorn Hospital shuts down after being stormed by Thai Red Shirt protesters [Reuters]

Chulalongkorn University Hospital, a major Thai hospital, has almost totally shut down after anti-government "Red Shirt" protesters stormed in late on Thursday night to look for soldiers that they accused were preparing for an attack.

"The incident yesterday clearly showed that it was longer safe in the hospital. They could come in anywhere they want," Adisorn Patradul, the hospital director, said on Friday.

He said that all but two of the hospital's patients were discharged or sent to other facilities, and almost all medical services were suspended.

About 200 protesters barged into the hospital but did not find any soldiers and left after roaming for an hour through the grounds, the lobby and car parks, some carrying wooden sticks.

"We truly apologise. That should not have happened and we don't approve of it," Weng Tojirakarn, a protest leader, said.

in depth

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Weng acknowledged some red shirts have a "cowboy attitude" that presents an image problem for the movement, which is already struggling to get support from middle-class Bangkok.

The protesters later cleared part of the road in front of the hospital to allow access for ambulances and patients, and erected a new barricade of tyres and bamboo poles on the other side of the road.

This was the second setback in a week for thousands of mostly rural and urban poor supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister, after security forces stopped an attempt to hold "mobile rallies" on Wednesday.

The protesters have set up a three square-km fortified encampment in Bangkok's shopping district, which has forced the closure of several upscale department stores and hotels, has become a tented city within a city.

"It's not necessary for me to condemn [the hospital break-in] since Thai society and the world community have already done that," Abhisit Vejjajiva, the prime minister said.

He said that the the government would "not allow any movements that pose threats to the public".

Protesters defiant

Despite such warnings, the Red Shirts have defied authorities at every turn, entering the Parliament building, laying siege to a telecommunications complex, blocking roads and staging mass motorised rallies since March 12.

At least 27 people have died and nearly 1,000 have been injured in violence since then.

Earlier on Thursday pro-government protesters called on Abhisit to take concrete measures against the opposition demonstrators.

About 1,000 so-called yellow shirts gathered outside the 11th Infantry Regiment headquarters demanding that he army act against their rival red shirts.

"They are going there to deliver a letter to the prime minister and also the head of the army to say that they want concrete measures, harsh measures in place to deal with the red shirts, to get rid of them from the streets," Al Jazeera's Wayne Hay, reporting from Bangkok, said.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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