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Thai Soldiers Move on Demonstrators in Bangkok


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Clashes have erupted between soldiers and anti-government demonstrators in Thailand's capital, Bangkok, one day after ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra urged his followers to carry out a revolution.

Officials say at least 68 people have been injured in the clashes.

Soldiers in full combat gear began moving in before dawn Monday. Television news reports showed video of troops firing shots into the air. Witnesses say demonstrators hurled homemade bombs at the soldiers. Also, fires were burning along the thoroughfare where the clashes erupted.

Two government officials appeared on television and called for calm.

The French News Agency (AFP) earlier quoted an army spokesman (Colonel Sansern Kaewkumnerd) who said the soldiers would start with "soft measures" to break up demonstrations, and then would "proceed to harder ones." He also said soldiers had used tear gas.

On Sunday, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra urged thousands of his supporters in Bangkok to carry out a "people's revolution." Speaking by phone, the exiled government opponent vowed to return to Thailand if authorities attack his supporters.

Thailand's current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva made a late-night televised appeal for calm Sunday and told citizens that his government remained in control.

Earlier, the prime minister had imposed emergency measures after demonstrators forced the government to cancel an ASEAN summit and evacuate leaders by helicopter from Pattaya Saturday. Those measures failed to stop a mob from attacking Mr. Abhisit's car with stones, sticks, poles and potted plants as it tried to leave the Interior Ministry compound Sunday. The prime minister escaped unhurt.

The unrest is the latest element of a political crisis that began when the military deposed Mr. Thaksin in 2006, accusing him of corruption and abuse of power.

Mr. Abhisit is the third person in the past year to hold the post of Thai prime minister.

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