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Thai anti-government protest leaders surrender

Thailand's anti-government "Red Shirts" today ended their street protest campaign as leaders surrendered to police after a military offensive against their rally base.

world Updated: May 19, 2010 13:31 IST

Thailand's anti-government "Red Shirts" on Wednesday ended their street protest campaign as leaders surrendered to police after a military offensive against their rally base.

At least four Reds leaders turned themselves in, after an overwhelming operation by troops who punched through the barricades of their camp in Bangkok's shopping district, which they have occupied for six weeks.

The leaders asked thousands of supporters in the camp to leave, and to proceed to an area where the government has laid on buses so they can depart the capital.

"I ask everyone to go home," said senior Reds figure Nattawut Saikuar in a television interview from the National Police Office where he was in custody.

"There will be police guarding the road and providing security for you. I hope that you return home safely," he said.

Earlier, Reds leaders had tearfully announced the end of their protest movement in front of a large crowd of emotional supporters, including many women and children.

"I know that you are suffering. Some of us are speechless. But we want to stop any more deaths here," said Jatuporn Prompan.

"I know that if the military comes here many of you will sacrifice your lives and we cannot stand to see that."

"We are ending the protests here," said Nattawut from the main protest stage. "I know this is unacceptable to some of you and some of you do not want to hear but we cannot stand against this cruelty."