Bangkok: Thai anti-government protesters were apologetic on Friday a day after a clumsy storming of a hospital that raised questions over whether the movement is losing direction in a two-month crisis that has killed 27 people.
Protest leaders apologised after more than 200 "red shirts" forced their way into Chulalongkorn University Hospital late on Thursday to look for soldiers they accused of preparing an attack, forcing the evacuation of some patients.
They didn`t find any and left after roaming for an hour through the grounds, the lobby and car parks, some carrying wooden staves. Some wanted to return on Friday for another search but red shirt leaders ruled it out.
"We truly apologise for any inconvenience caused. Some were very concerned the hospital was harbouring troops," said Weng Tojirakarn, a protest leader.
Weng acknowledged some red shirts have a "cowboy attitude" that presents an image problem for the movement, which is already struggling to get support from middle-class Bangkok.
It was the second setback in a week for thousands of mostly rural and urban poor supporters of ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra after security forces on Wednesday stopped an attempt to hold "mobile rallies" outside their 3 sq-km (1.2 sq-mile) fortified encampment in central Bangkok.
The encampment is slowly becoming "a city within a city”, deepening a crisis that Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said could reduce Thailand`s economic growth rate by two percentage points if it continues all year.