In a day of street battles that left more than 100 people injured, thousands of anti-government protesters surrounded the Thai Parliament Tuesday, trapping hundreds of members inside for more than five hours.
Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat escaped over a back fence in the morning after delivering a policy address. But other members were unable to leave until the police dispersed the protesters and cleared the way for them.
“We ran, ran, ran,” said one Parliament member, Niyom Vejkarma, who had stripped off his jacket and tie and fled from the building in his patent leather shoes.
“My eyes are sore,” he said, referring to the tear gas that lingered in the air, as he and fellow lawmakers stood at a street corner with their mobile telephones and called their drivers.
The siege escalated a six-week sit-in on the grounds of the prime minister’s office, less than a mile away, that has forced the government to relocate its business to a former international airport.
The surrounding of the Parliament, meanwhile, appeared to have been well planned and well supplied. Protesters distributed food, water and masks to protect against tear gas. They made barricades out of tires and razor wire and secured the entrance to the Parliament building. Groups of reinforcements arrived during the afternoon, some carrying banners.