Thailand "Close to Civil War"

World | May 16, 2010, Sunday // 10:35
Bulgaria: Thailand "Close to Civil War" Thai anti-government red shirt protester makes a fist in front of the protesters burning blockade as they face off with Thai soldiers and fight their way in in violent street battles in Bangkok, Thailand, 16 May 2010. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Thai protesters have stood their ground in Bangkok, defying a vow from Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to use the military to stop them toppling his government.

Several hundred protesters are gathering in another part of the city.

One protest leader said Thailand was close to "civil war" after clashes in Bangkok between protesters and soldiers that have left at least 25 people dead.

Abhisit is set to impose a curfew in Bangkok and has postponed the new school term in the city for a week.

The fighting flared on Thursday as the army moved to isolate a fortified protest camp.

Thousands of people who say Abhisit came to power undemocratically remain behind makeshift barricades of rubber tyres, sandbags and bamboo stakes in the Ratchaprasong commercial district.

The protesters are known as red-shirts, after the colour they have adopted.

They want the prime minister to step down to make way for new elections.

Red-shirt leaders have been calling for reinforcements, but protesters coming from elsewhere in the country have been unable to breach the military cordon, and are congregating nearby.

Several hundred red-shirt suppporters have gathered around a mobile stage set up in central Bangkok's Klong Toey area, and protest leaders have called for a rally at another mobile stage in the north of the city.

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