BANGKOK, Thailand — Protesters occupying Bangkok’s two airports braced for a raid Thursday night after Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat declared a limited state of emergency authorizing police to take back the terminals.
Meanwhile, rumors swept the city that the military would instead stage a coup to end the monthslong standoff between the People’s Alliance for Democracy and the elected government, which the alliance has vowed to topple.
Thousands of tourists were left stranded since flights in and out of the capital were grounded Tuesday when protesters occupied Suvarnabhumi international airport.
The group seized the smaller Don Muang airport on Wednesday.
Somchai did not say when authorities would move in.
But even before the announcement, protesters at the international airport donned goggles and helmets, and first aid stations handed out surgical masks in anticipation of a police raid. Speakers from a makeshift stage repeatedly yelled: “Are you scared?” The crowd roared back: “We’re not scared!”
Speculation that the military stage a coup intensified after Thailand’s powerful army commander Gen. Anupong Paochinda suggested Wednesday that Somchai call new elections, and the prime minister rejected the idea.