After several M-79 grenades were fired at sky train stations in the Silom area of Bangkok last night, injuring more than 75 commuters and killing one Thai food stall vendor, embassies from the UK, the US, Canada and Australia are warning their citizens to stay away from Thailand.
The Government of Canada website advises against, “non-essential travel to Central Bangkok’s commercial business district due to ongoing large scale political demonstrations and the significant risk of violent clashes and further unrest. A State of Emergency remains in effect. The security situation is very volatile with the potential for further violent clashes, attacks, and security action.”
They also say that, while they do not feel Canadians will in any way be targets of the violence, they could end up being accidental casualties due to the escalating violent situation. So staying away from these areas is highly advisable.
Although the Canadian embassy, at this point, is only recommending Canadians stay away from situations that may turn violent, the US, UK and Australia have been even more strident, recommending tourists from these three countries avoid Thailand completely. They believe the situation currently in downtown Bangkok could escalate to surrounding areas and other parts of Thailand and, although not outright saying so, seem to think it’s possible civil war could erupt in the country.
The United Nations have also commented about the grenade attacks yesterday and the on-going political protests with a spokesman saying today, “”We appeal to both the protesters and the Thai authorities to avoid further violence and loss of life and to work to resolve the situation peacefully through dialogue,”
The red shirt protesters have been occupying main areas of downtown Bangkok for six weeks now. Major malls, stores, restaurants and cafes have been closed for much of these six weeks, with area businesses losing millions of dollars a day. The military has been ordered several times by Thailand’s lame-duck government to clear red shirt protesters from these areas, but they have been unable to do so. There are simply too many protesters.
With the grenade attack at a Bangkok sky train station last night, that’s just about hammered the final nail in the coffin for Thailand’s tourism industry this year. Tourists are canceling trips to Thailand in droves and many who are stuck here due to the Icelandic earthquake are desperate to get out.
One Thai TV station today reported a near riot by more than 300 British tourists who, when they discovered they would not be on a flight out of the country, swarmed the airline desk causing staff to flee in panic.
As Thailand descends further into chaos, and the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva looks more and more ineffective, how much longer this situation will continue is anyone’s guess.