msnbc News   |  May 20, 2010

Protesters burn buildings in Bangkok

36 buildings in Bangkok, including a major shopping mall, stock exchange, banks and TV station, lie in cinders after being set ablaze by anti-government protesters. NBC's Ian Williams reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> doorstep. scary.

>>> parts of bangkok look like a battle zone this morning as thai forces work to control the chaotic scene there. it was near anarchy yesterday as troops stormed a camp triggering more classes and destruction. we're in bangkok and we have the latest. good evening your time. are the fires out yet or still burning ?

>> reporter: well, they're almost out. a little earlier this evening i was over in the biggest shopping mall in thailand in central world , which was torched yesterday. a large part of it has collapsed and firefighters were still there trying to douse the flames. that is one of 36 buildings set ablaze yesterday in this orgy of arson which followed the army crackdown against the rally site. they seem to have targeted symbols of prosperity if you like, banks, a government owned tv station , the stock exchange , shopping malls , most of which were still smoldering this morning. most of the fire is out, but it seems that we've been pretty well organized. my sense is it was quite well coordinated and was triggered after the arrest of the red shirt , the anti-government leaders. now, as i speak to you, i'm looking out over one of bangkok 's main highways, which is almost deserted as another curfew clicks in here, a 9:00 to 5:00 curfew that lasts through sunday. this in an endeavor by the thai authorities to put a cap on this violence. today the streets have been quiet. a lot of debris, a lot of mess we're seeing lots of possessions spread all over the streets where the protestors fled from the army. we see the remains of smoldering barricades, but mainly the the street is very quiet with the army in control. an army which generally feels quite pleased with itself after yesterday's operation. we and many others have feared a real bloodbath as they moved in, but although we know tragically that 13 people died and many were injured, this does seem to be a lot less than people feared. the army seems to have carried out this clearance with quite a bit of constraint. the question now, of course, is what happens next? there are all sorts of rumors of festering unrest outside bangkok , although so far this is restricted to the burning of a number of town halls. clearly, thailand is tense and there is a lot of concern about where this goes next.

>> we'll see how that curfew works through sunday. thanks so