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Terrorism & Security

Thai army leader asks prime minister to step down

Attacks on antigovernment protesters injured at least seven at Thailand's main airport and in Bangkok Wednesday.

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Thailand's Bangkok Post reports that many were wounded following the take of the main airport.

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Government supporters initially hurled rocks and other objects at a vehicle carrying the PAD protesters, who then retaliated with slingshots and gunfire.
Eleven people were injured and taken to hospital.

The airport seizure is part of what the protesters are calling "a final push against the country's leaders," The New York Times explains.

They prevented one important parliamentary session, and have said they plan to prevent any future sessions or Cabinet meetings, effectively paralyzing the government.
The protesters, a loose coalition of royalists, academics and members of the urban elite, say they are frustrated with years of vote-buying and corruption. Many are also skeptical of Thai democracy in its current form and propose a voting system that would lessen the representation of lower-income Thais, whom they say are particularly susceptible to vote-buying.

The violence will spell financial trouble for Thailand's tourism industry, CNN reports.

Kongkrit Hiranyakit, head of the Tourism Council of Thailand, told The Associated Press that the bombings, at the height of the high season which runs from late October to February, could cut income from tourism to half the expected 240 billion baht ($6.8 billion)....
The travel industry has already seen a drop off in tourist numbers after protesters shutdown Phuket airport for two days in August and with continued anti-government protests in central Bangkok resulting in violence.
The British Foreign Office has warned tourists to take care in the city after two people were killed and more than 400 were injured during recent clashes between protesters and police....
The U.S. State Department has also warned people traveling to Thailand to exercise caution, especially in locations where Westerners congregate.

Tourism is not the only industry suffering: Thailand's stock market plunged to new lows amid the turmoil, Reuters reports:

The unrest forced the stock market and Thai baht lower in early trade as investors feared the political crisis would exacerbate the problems facing the Thai economy, but stocks had turned higher by the close amid speculation Somchai would quit.
Thailand's finance minister has said the protests could have a damaging effect on the economy, which depends on tourism and exports, both vulnerable to the global economic slowdown.

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