Thai protest leaders have surrendered to avoid further bloodshed.

Thai soldiers with armed vehicles stormed the Red Shirt protesters’ camp and at least five people died and many more were injured.

They have taken control of an area to the south of the site, which stretches from the shopping district to the business area and is believed to hold several thousand protesters including women and children, some of whom have fled.

The government said the operation would continue all day and insisted it was willing to hold talks if protesters left the street.

The protesters agreed to talks yesterday but are unwilling to leave the streets before doing so.

A public holiday has been declared until Friday in the hope of finding a resolution.

Earlier this month the Thai tourism minister predicted the troubles would be over by the end of this week.

He had urged British tourists not to tar the whole country with the brush of localised trouble.