People watching MSNBC Wednesday morning could be forgiven for believing that the Taliban had invaded Bangkok. As NBC’s Ian Williams reported on violent protests in the capital city of Thailand, a graphic on the lower third of MSNBC’s screen read: “NEW TALIBAN ATTACKS, BANGKOK BURNS.”
In truth, fires in the Thai capitol were not caused by the Taliban. Bangkok “burned” Wednesday because of rioting by anti-government protesters, according to The Associated Press.
Downtown Bangkok became a flaming battleground Wednesday as an army assault forced anti-government protest leaders to surrender, enraging followers who shot grenades and set fire to landmark buildings, cloaking the skyline in black smoke.
Using live ammunition, troops dispersed thousands of Red Shirt protesters who had been camped in the capital’s premier shopping and residential district for weeks. Five protesters and an Italian news photographer were killed in the ensuing gunbattles and about 60 wounded.
After Red Shirt leaders gave themselves up to police, rioters set fires at the Stock Exchange, several banks, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Electricity Authority, the Central World, one of Asia’s biggest shopping malls, and cinema that burned to ground. There were reports of looting.