Nightly News   |  May 16, 2010

Bangkok riots spread as death toll rises

With casualties mounting, the Red Shirt protestors appealed to the army to stop firing, but the government refused, claiming it’s only targeting armed “terrorists.” NBC’s Ian Williams reports.

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

>> gosk at heathrow, thank you.

>>> in thailand, explosions marked another day of street fighting between protesters and government forces. the violence has left at least 30 dead, hundreds wounded, and the survival of the government itself in doubt. nbc 's ian williams reports tonight from bangkok .

>> reporter: the commercial heart of the thai capital now resembles a battlefield. pitting the army against red-shirted protesters who want to topple the government . a fourth day of violence unfolded beneath a sky blackened by smoke from burning tires. with casualties mounting, the red shirts appealed to the army to stop firing and called for talks.

>> we want to enter into negotiation with the government , with the united nations as mediator.

>> reporter: but the government refused, claiming the army is only targeting what they call "armed terrorists" among the protesters. for weeks now, the red shirts have camped behind barricades of tires and sharpened bamboo, occupying a vast swath of the city's ritziest district . shutting down luxury shopping malls and five-star hotels popular with western tourists. they're mostly the poor, rural supporters of a former prime minister ousted in a military coup . they reject the current government and want new elections. the army moved to seal off their rally site after negotiations broke down. and today they called on the protesters to immediately go home. the numbers here at the main rally site have dwindled to perhaps a few thousands, but look around and you see many elderly people , women, and children. and they're refusing to heed the government 's warning to leave. the government has offered safe passage , but only until monday. and the red shirts have told women and children to take shelter in a buddhist temple . we're not leaving the rally, this woman said, we're just staying at the temple for now. tonight, the rioting is spreading. and this famed tourist destination is failing to contain its worst violence in 18 years. ian williams , nbc news, bangkok .

>>> and back in this country,