Honolulu man describes violence in Thailand - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Honolulu man describes violence in Thailand

Greg Almeida Greg Almeida

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

BANGKOK (HawaiiNewsNow) - Waving a white flag - it's been a violent end to the battle for Bangkok.

The leaders of the 'Red Shirt' protest group have surrendered to Thailand's government.

That has followers so furious, they've set several buildings on fire. And in the middle of it all is a Hawaii man.

Greg Almeida is from Honolulu. He's been living and working as a salesman in Bangkok the past 14 years.

Hawaii News Now spoke with him by phone on Wednesday as he walked through the streets and described what's left of his second home.

A burnt battleground is what's left of Bangkok.

It's been five weeks since Red Shirt protestors took the heart of the city hostage.

On Wednesday, the Thai army finally stormed through barricades, taking back the capitol, hunting for rebels.

"I'm down on the street now. Actually you know what, I will walk to the main road where there's a military road block," said Honolulu native, Greg Almeida, who now lives in Bangkok.

Almeida says the army is still trying to clean the city. Red Shirt leaders are now in government custody. But their followers are still lashing out, setting buildings on fire.

"It's still smoldering. I'm out on the street now, the smoke isn't black but under the street lights it's still very hazy," said Almeida.

Soldiers have met fierce resistance from protestors, dodging gunfire, grenades, even a sniper in nearby building. Witnesses say at least 12 people have died in the crossfire. Leaving citizens, walking on dangerous ground.

"I travel when I have to, not a problem avoid the areas that they're in, make sure I plan my routes before I leave the house and try and get up-to-date intelligence on what's happening," said Almeida.

Thailand's prime minister is trying to assure his people that his government will restore order.

A curfew in Bangkok is in effect.

But with the growing tension between the rich and the poor, the question remains whether the army assault will resolve or only suppress the call for a new government.

Most of the protesters are from poverty-stricken farms in the North.

They resent the upper class because of their strong hold on the country's wealth.

Almeida says the Red Shirts want the former prime minister back in power.

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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