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Bangkok on the brink as no side backs down

Bangkok on the brink as no side backs down
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The violence in Bangkok threatens to escalate, with neither the government nor its opponents seemingly ready to back down.

Around 5,000 protesters remain barricaded in a 3.5 square kilometre camp in the heart of the Thai capital, determined to force new elections.

Thailand’s embattled prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, says he is prepared to use force to break the deadlock.

“What the government and the security agencies are doing at the moment is necessary. We cannot leave the country in a situation where people who don’t obey the law are holding hostage the people of Bangkok, as well as the centre of the country,” he said.

Two months of protests in the Thai capital descended into urban warfare on Thursday, when a rogue army general who had joined the demonstrators was shot in the head. Since then at least 24 people have been killed.

Protest leaders say reinforcements are on their way from rural areas. The government is considering a curfew.

With both sides insisting they can emerge successful from the conflict, and with negotiations dead in the water, it is hard to see a peaceful way out of the deadlock.