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NEWS UPDATES 12 April 2010

Thai protesters keep mounting pressure on government

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Red shirt protesters paraded coffins through Thailand's capital Monday in a renewed attempt to pressure the government to step down after street fighting left 21 people dead, pushing this Southeast Asian nation closer to political anarchy, reported the Associated Press.

Neither side appeared willing to end a political stalemate that exploded on Saturday when protesters and security forces clashed on the streets of Bangkok for several hours, resulting in the worst bloodshed seen in Thailand in almost two decades. Both sides claim to be fighting to preserve democracy.

"Red Shirts will never negotiate with murderers," protest leader Jatuporn Prompan announced from a makeshift stage. "Although the road is rough and full of obstacles, it's our duty to honor the dead by bringing democracy to this country."

The Thai stock market plunged 4 percent when it opened for business Monday amid fears of more unrest as tens of thousands of demonstrators came out in a massive motorcade. The line of pickup trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles wound its way through the main roads of Bangkok. They carried 11 coffins with bodies of those killed in Saturday's violence, said Weng Tojirakarn, a protest leader.

Four soldiers and 17 civilians were killed, including a Thomson Reuters news agency cameraman, according to Reuters and the government's Erawan emergency center. The government was conducting autopsies on nine bodies Monday.

The procession started at Phan Fa Bridge, located in the historic section of Bangkok and one of the two bases of the protesters. It drove through the modern commercial heart of the city along Phetburi Road, Rama IV Road and past the vegetable and meat market of Klong Toey.

The disruptive protests began a month ago, taking the protesters' demands - for Abhisit to dissolve Parliament and call new elections - to a new level.


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