Rows of thatch-roofed shacks set ablaze sent black smoke swirling into the sky, as passersby ducked for safety amid a thundering exchange of gunfire.
This was not a scene from a movie. It was a violent attack in broad daylight by some 200 armed men to evict a community of squatters from a deserted plot of land right on busy Paholyothin Highway.
The 616-rai plot of land in Pathum Thani's Khlong Luang district was where the textile factory Thai Melon Polyester once operated. Following the firm's bankruptcy the land was confiscated by the Thai Asset Management Corporation and the deserted premises were taken over by hundreds of landless squatters, who refused to leave when the property finally changed hands, making the new owner furious. Hence the violent eviction. He is now under arrest.