Thai PM Defends Use of Force as Bodies Pile Up

Saying that an ongoing military crackdown is necessary for the future of Thailand, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva defended on Saturday the government action that has caused more than 20 deaths since Thursday. In a nationally televised message, Vejjajiva said that the government is “doing what is necessary.”

Gunfire and explosions rung through the Bangkok business district on Saturday night, as the violence entered its fourth day. Authorities said the death toll from the ongoing clashes, which began on Thursday when a rogue general was shot in the head, have reached 24, with around 172 injured. Vejjajiva said the military will not turn back this time unlike last month, when authorities retreated after clashes killed 25 people. “Ending the rally is the only way to prevent calamity…the government cannot turn back,” a defiant Vejjajiva said after the military top brass were shown on television in what appeared to be a show of force.

Protesters, however, continued to defy the government, hurling rocks and firing rockets at soldiers, who retaliate with live ammunition and rubber bullets, turning the business district into a virtual war zone. A protest leader Jatuporn Prompan, said the situation in Bangkok is almost like civil war. “Please don’t ask us how we are going to end this situation, because we are the ones being killed,” he said.