By BosNewsLife Asia Service
BANGKOK, THAILAND (BosNewsLife)– A U.S. based mission group said Thursday, May 20, that its employees in Thailand have taken “increased precautions” as anti-government violence in Bangkok has spread to areas where missionaries work.
“Unrest has spread to some provincial capitals,” New Tribes Mission (NTM) told BosNewsLife. “These include Chiang Mai, where NTM has personnel who support the work of missionaries in rural villages.”
The group added that “NTM’s personnel in Chiang Mai are taking increased precautions and this has caused some disruption in their daily routines.”
NTM said none of its missionaries are currently stationed in the country’s capital Bangkok, where troops and die-hard anti-government protesters reportedly exchanged sporadic fire in parts of the city Thursday, May 20.
That gunfire came a day after a military operation cleared most of a protest encampment in the center of the capital, leaving 15 dead and 98 wounded.
Reporters said a special police unit on Thursday, May 20, led more than a thousand people – many of them women and children – away from a Buddhist temple in the heart of the former protest zone of the “Red Shirt” movement. Six bodies were found on its grounds, The Associated Press (AP) news agency reported.
The Red Shirt leaders say the protests were sparked by anger over the governments’ perceived unwillingness to support the poor, many of whom have not yet benefited from Thailand’s economic boom.
A nighttime curfew was extended in Bangkok and 23 other provinces for three more days, the government said Thursday, May 20. It was not immediately clear what impact the actions would have on missionaries and Christian aid workers in the country.
NTM said it would “continue to monitor the situation from inside and outside the country” and “will take appropriate actions to minimize risk to its missionaries in Thailand.”
The country is a major hub for missionaries working in Asia as well as in Thailand itself. NTM said it had asked its supporters to pray for missionaries in the area.