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Thai Prime Minister Threatens Force to Stop Demonstrations

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Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has threatened to use force against protesters who forced the cancellation of a summit of Asian leaders, invaded the grounds of the Interior Ministry, and attacked the Thai leader's car earlier in the day.

In a televised statement Sunday, Mr. Abhisit said if anti-government violence continues to escalate, police and the military will take further action under Bangkok's state of emergency.

Violence broke out in Bangkok earlier Sunday after the government declared a state of emergency in the capital and surrounding areas.

Mr. Abhisit said his deputy prime minister, Suthep Thaugsuban, will be the chief enforcer of emergency measures, and that he would have the power to order arrests, building searches, and the demolition of structures for the sake of law and order.

Shortly after the announcement, Mr. Abhisit narrowly escaped from the Interior Ministry, as dozens of red-shirted anti-government protesters broke into the grounds and attacked his car.

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Security forces fired warning shots in the air.

Authorities said troops have been deployed throughout Bangkok. Tanks and armored personnel carriers were seen on the streets of the capital. Protesters were seen taking over one tank.

The unrest began Saturday when hundreds of red-shirted demonstrators demanding the prime minister's resignation disrupted a summit of Asian leaders in the resort city of Pattaya.

The protesters breached police lines and broke through glass doors to enter the hotel where the delegates were meeting.

Mr. Abhisit canceled the rest of the ASEAN summit, and had leaders evacuated by helicopter.

Thai police said Sunday they had arrested Arisman Pongreungrong, the leader of the anti-government protesters.

The demonstrators, who support ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, consider the current government illegitimate and want new elections.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.