BANGKOK // A major hospital in the Thai capital evacuated patients and suspended all but emergency surgeries today after anti-government protesters stormed in to hunt for security forces. A group of so-called Red Shirts broke into Chulalongkorn Hospital late last night despite pleas from its director, then withdrew back into their enclave after not finding soldiers or police within the sprawling compound.
The prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, who the protesters seek to overthrow, went on nationwide television to criticise recent Red Shirt actions that have paralysed areas of central Bangkok. "It's not necessary for me to condemn (the hospital break-in) since Thai society and the world community have already done that," he said, adding that the government would "not allow any movements that pose threats to the public."
Despite such warnings, the Red Shirts, who began their protests on March 12 in their campaign to force immediate elections, have defied authorities at every turn, entering the parliament building, laying siege to a telecommunications complex, blocking roads and staging mass motorised rallies in the Thai capital. At least 27 people have died and nearly 1,000 have been injured in outbreaks of street violence.
Security forces have in almost every instance been unable or unwilling to stop the Red Shirt forays, including the incursion into the century-old public hospital. * AP