12 Apr 2010

Thai protesters defiant after 21 die in clashes

6:29 pm on 12 April 2010

Thai "Red Shirt" protesters have ruled out negotiations with the government, and said they would not give up their fight for early elections, a day after clashes with security forces killed at least 21 people.

Saturday's fighting in Bangkok, the worst political violence in the country for years, ended after security forces pulled back late in the night. More than 800 people were wounded in the violence, some of which took place in tourist areas.

The demonstrators, still numbering in the thousands, have occupied two main areas of the Bangkok, which has been under a state of emergency since Wednesday.

They made no attempt to come out of their bases on Sunday and troops did not make any move towards them.

"Red Shirt" protesters, many of whom are sympathisers of ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra, want Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to resign and call elections, saying his government is illegitimate.

Mr Thaksin, writing on his Twitter account, accused the government of "bringing troops from all over the country" to crush the protests. The former Prime Minister lives in exile in Dubai.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thausuban vowed to return order to the streets, although he conceded that troops would not be able to take control immediately after the damage suffered in Saturday's clashes.