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Thai protesters call for talks, clashes leave 29 dead

Thai protesters call for talks, clashes leave 29 dead
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First Published: Sun, May 16 2010. 11 17 PM IST
Updated: Sun, May 16 2010. 11 17 PM IST
Bangkok: Thailand’s “Red Shirt” protesters appealed on Sunday for United Nations (UN)-mediated talks with the government after several days of violent street battles in the capital left 29 people dead and at least 220 wounded.
A top protest leader also urged the revered king to intervene in the crisis, which has turned areas of the city into no-go zones as troops fire live ammunition at demonstrators, some armed or using slingshots and fireworks.
The Reds were ready to enter peace talks with the government “immediately” as long as the UN mediated, protest leader Nattawut Saikuar said. “We want the UN because we don’t trust we will receive justice from organizations in Thailand,” he said, as the death toll jumped by five on Sunday after urban warfare erupted in the heart of the city of 12 million people. But the idea was quickly shot down by the government, which has repeatedly warned foreign governments not to meddle in its affairs.
“As for the call of UN interference, no governments allow any organizations to intervene in their internal affairs,” spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said. Previous talks between the two sides have failed to reach an agreement, despite an offer—since withdrawn—by the embattled premier to hold polls in November if the opposition demonstrators go home.
The army on Sunday put off a plan to impose a curfew in parts of the city, but did not rule out restricting night-time movements if the situation deteriorates. The government extended a state of emergency to five more provinces, ordered schools to stay shut on Monday and declared two days of national holidays to keep civilians off the streets. Authorities said they would send workers from the Red Cross to help protesters—women, children and the elderly—who want to leave the vast protest area in the heart of the capital.
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First Published: Sun, May 16 2010. 11 17 PM IST