INTRODUCTION: Loyal Thai government troops swept back into the capital Bangkok on Friday (3 April) to crush a three-day rebellion by dissident army officers and restore the authority of Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda.
GV & CU Government troops on tank (2 shots)
GV Line of tanks in street with soldier directing army vehicles (2 shots)
GV PANS Tanks moving down Bangkok street (2 shots)
GV Government troops with rifles at ready marching through street
GV Troops guarding Thai Army television station
GV Soldiers on guard in and beside jeep
GV ZOOM TO SV Troops lying beside railway line
GV Tank moving down Bangkok street among civilian traffic and government troops on patrol at roadside
GV PAN Patrol marching down street and carrying weapons, including rocket launchers
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Loyal Thai government troops swept back into the capital Bangkok on Friday (3 April) to crush a three-day rebellion by dissident army officers and restore the authority of Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda. There was little resistance and within a few hours of their arrival the coup fizzled out almost as quietly as it began in the early hours of Wednesday (1 April).
SYNOPSIS: Prime Minister Prem's troops moved into Bangkok early in the morning and arrested a number of the rebel officers. The insurgent troops were offered a pardon if they laid down their arms, and soon most returned peacefully to their barracks.
There were only few signs of resistance and they appeared as a result of insufficient communication rather than deliberate fighting. Thai Radio has reported that the leader of the coup, General Sant Chitpatima has fled the country by helicopter to Burma. His deputy, General Vasin Israngkul Na Ayuthaya, the report continued, has surrendered. And while the insurgents had held the capital, Prime Minister Prem held the trump cards -- the loyalty of all the First Army and the backing of the King.
Prime Minister Prem is now firmly back in control. His troops patrol the streets of Bangkok, making a point of showing their strength. Some observers feel Prime Minister Prem's position may have been strengthened by his handling of the coup, especially over its bloodless outcome. Others say the use he made of the king may rebound in the long term against him.
Prime Minister Prem's government has suffered growing criticism during his 13 months in the office, particularly over his handling of the economy. There also have been charges of corruption which gained supporters for the attempted coup. But the Prime Minister is personally popular. His prestige could be further enhanced by his successful handling of the hijacking of an Indonesian airliner to Bangkok airport last week.
A key factor in quelling the coup was the presence of King Bhumibol in Korat under Prime Minister Prem's protection. With the King seen to be siding with the Prime Minister the coup leaders would have found it difficult to win popular support. Prime Minister Prem is expected to make a triumphant return to Bangkok over the weekend from Korat, where he rallied support for his government.