TITLE=THAILAND / BURMA EMBASSY (L)
INTRO: A dozen armed attackers, calling
themselves the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors,
attacked Burma's Embassy in Bangkok late Friday
morning and are holding up to 20 diplomats and
their families. Ron Corben reports from Bangkok
there is a tense standoff at the Embassy
TEXT: In a daring daylight raid, the attackers
stormed the embassy compound. In a faxed
statement sent to a local television station,
they demanded Burma's military government free
all political prisoners. The statement said none
of the hostages had been harmed.
Police had said one person - of unknown
nationality - was believed to have been killed,
but details of casualties and injuries are
Initial reports said the hostages included the
Burmese Ambassador, but the military goverment's
spokesman in Rangoon, says the senior diplomat
was not present at the time of the attack.
Police say the raid occurred just before noon
local time, and more than half a dozen shots rang
out from within the walled compound, located in
Bangkok's financial and diplomatic district.
Some 200 Thai police and security forces have
surrounded the compound, an older style timber
structure, with diplomatic residential apartments
built at the back of the Embassy.
More recently built office towers and apartments
overlook the Embassy and its garden, from which
Thai special branch, and security officials have
taken up positions.
The Burmese national flag has been lowered and
replaced by the attackers with one emblazoned
with a red fighting peacock, considered a symbol
of the anti-military movement in Burma.
Police say the hostage takers were carrying
automatic rifles and some 20 hand grenades when
the attack began.
A key student group in Thailand, the All Burma
Students Democratic Front or A-B-S-D-F - has
denied any involvement in the siege.
Observers at the scene said the group of
attackers included both men and women, who had
come from a special student refugee camp at
Ratchburi, outside Bangkok, and from Mae Sot, a
Thai border town and home for many Burmese
/// Rest Opt ///
The incident is a violent turn from regular
demonstrations by pro-democracy activists outside
the Embassy that call for change in Burma.
A bid by student activists in Thailand and inside
Burma to calls for a mass uprising and
demonstrations against the military government in
Burma in recent months have apparently failed to
trigger widespread support in the country.
01-Oct-1999 06:49 AM LOC (01-Oct-1999 1049 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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