Thailand's embattled government, humiliated by demonstrators who shut down a 16-nation Asian summit, declared a state of emergency in the capital today and ordered armored vehicles into the streets to stem a tide of protest across the country. Bands of anti-government protesters roamed Bangkok as the decree was announced. They smashed a car, commandeered public buses, and beat up motorists who hurled insults at them.
The emergency decree bans gatherings of more than five people, forbids news reports considered threatening to public order, and allows the government to call up military troops to quell unrest. But there were signs that officials might not be able to contain the protesters. Demonstrators swarmed over two armored personnel carriers outside a city shopping mall, while police stood by as a furious crowd beat a car that they thought held the prime minister.