Clashes, blasts rattle besieged Bangkok; 22 dead
Thailand's prime minister struck a defiant tone Saturday on national television, saying his government will not bow to demonstrators demanding his resignation, AP reported.
Explosions and street fighting have killed 22 people and wounded more than 170 since the government attempted Thursday to seal off a 1-square-mile (3-square-kilometer) zone the Red Shirt protesters have occupied in one of the capital's most upscale areas.
In his first comments since the latest violence erupted, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva defended the army's actions.
"The government must move forward. We cannot retreat because we are doing things that will benefit the entire country," he said.
The plan is "to return normalcy with minimum loss" to the Thai capital, he said.
The problem is some "terrorists" have infiltrated the Red Shirt protesters.
"I insist that if we want to see an end to the loss of life, the only way is to have the protesters end their protest," he said.
The demonstrators claim Abhisit's coalition government came to power through manipulation of the courts and the backing of the powerful military, and that it is indifferent to the poor.
The spiraling violence has raised concerns that Thailand - a longtime tourism magnet that promotes its easygoing culture as the "Land of Smiles" - was teetering toward instability.