11/26/2008, 00.00
THAILAND
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“Final Battle” in Bangkok: airport occupied and 7 injured

Early this morning anti-government protesters took over the airport control tower. At least 80 flights have been cancelled or delayed; over half of all flights cancelled. Bombs injure 7 demonstrators.

Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) - An estimated 3 thousand passengers are trapped in the airport given that all access to the area has been blocked off.  Demonstrators also seem to have taken over the control tower, demanding that all in-coming flights seek their permission to land.  Airport director Serirat Prasutanon has declared that as of this morning all air traffic “is completely blocked” adding that 78 flights to and from Bangkok have been deviated.  Half of all flights have been cancelled.

The airport occupation is the latest move in a campaign launched by the opposition PAD (People’s Alliance for Democracy), in an attempt to force the resignation of the government, deemed corrupt and a “puppet” in the hands of ex premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was chased from power following a 2006 military coup and who is currently in exile in London.

According to Petpong Kamchornkitkarn, spokesman for emergency services, 2 people have been injured by a bomb blast in the airport.  Another bomb, launched against protesters in the old airport of Don Mueang, wounded 2 people.  A further 3 people were injured by two bomb explosions on the road towards Don Mueang. It is likely that Prime Minister Somchai, returning from an Asia-Pacific summit in Peru, will land in Don Mueang.

Because of the standstill in flights, thousands of passengers were forced to sleep in the airport, on benches or on luggage belts.  Suvarnabhumi airport welcomes over 125 thousand passengers a day.

Protest organisers define their occupation as the “final battle” in the fight to force the government’s resignation, despite the fact the government was democratically elected.  So far the government has not asked for military intervention or declared a state of emergency.

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