TODAY   |  May 19, 2010

Thai government forces crush protests

Using armored vehicles and firing semi-automatic weapons, soldiers advance on a commercial area in Bangkok occupied by thousands of Red Shirt demonstrators. NBC’s Ian Williams reports.

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ANN CURRY, anchor: And we begin with some very serious news. A deadly and decisive action this morning in Thailand . Government forces moved to crush protesters who fought back even after their leaders agreed to surrender. NBC 's Ian Williams joins us now by telephone from Bangkok , parts of which were actually set on fire overnight. Ian , describe what's happening.

IAN WILLIAMS reporting: Good morning, Ann. Well, it's been a day of chaos and violence in Bangkok and it's not over yet. We're still hearing gunfire, many, many buildings are ablaze, including banks, the Stock Exchange of Thailand and a

major.... Now the army moved this morning to crush the protest, which has paralyzed the center of this city for two months. They sent armored vehicles, soldiers in. There were many, many casualties, we believe, although I don't have precise figures. Around lunchtime, the leaders, the red-shirted leaders of the protest, announced that they were giving up, but far from calming things down that seems to have triggered this orgy of arson across the city. Now the government has announced a curfew which will come into play in a couple of hours time throughout the night, but at the moment the city is in chaos, Ann.

CURRY: All right. Ian Williams covering that story, which is still developing this morning. Thanks, Ian.