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Thai PM boosts army security role
Army commander told to restore order to Bangkok as red shirts aim for more protests.
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2010 07:01 GMT
The red shirts say they will continue their protests until Abhisit steps down as prime minister [Reuters]

Thailand's prime minister has put the nation's army commander in charge of restoring order to the capital Bangkok.

Abhisit Vejjajiva's actions are a response to Friday's botched raid on a Bangkok hotel where anti-government red shirt leaders were staying.

Arissman Pongruangrong, who is one of 24 leaders being sought by police, managed to escape by climbing down a rope.

Leaders of red shirts said on Saturday that they would surrender to police next month, but refused to end their rally in Bangkok's commercial heartland.

New push expected

The army has said it will make a new attempt to disperse the protesters, but has given no further details of its plans.

in depth

  Q&A: Thaksin and the red shirts
  Thailand: Warring colours
  Profile: Thaksin Shinawatra
  Blog: Thailand's darkest day
   
  VIDEOS
  Al Jazeera speaks to both sides of the conflict
  Thai protesters fight for a voice
  Violence flares in the Thai capital
 

Red shirts stage blood protest

 

Bloodshed clouds Thai new year

One week on from the deadly clashes between the red shirts and security forces that left 24 people dead and more than 800 people injured, the protesters said they expected a new push by the army to disperse them after its chief was put in charge.

"On May 15, 24 of us will surrender. All of the leaders," Nattawut Saikuar, an important red shirt leader, said.

"For now the 24 of us will keep rallying to show sincerely that we won't run away I'm sure the order to suppress us will come out soon."

The red shirts, who are seeking immediate elections, have so far ignored repeated calls by the authorities to disperse from Bangkok's business hub, despite arrest warrants outstanding against core leaders.

For their part, red shirt leaders gave on Saturday alms to Buddhist monks on their rally stage, in memory of last weekend's violence.

The mostly poor and rural-based movement has since abandoned its rally spot close to where the violence took place to instead reinforce numbers in a Bangkok district home to luxury hotels and shopping malls.

Most of the red shirt protesters are supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Thai prime minister who was ousted in a 2006 coup.

Source:
Agencies
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