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Thai protesters threaten to throw blood at official buildings

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PM rejects 'Red Shirt' demand
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • PM Abhisit Vejjajiva says he will listen to protesters but not accede to their demands
  • Protesters say they will collect 1,000 liters of blood Tuesday to throw at Government House
  • Two soldiers were injured when grenades were tossed into the 11th Infantry Headquarters
  • The protesters are supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) -- Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva rejected protesters' demands Monday that he call an early election and dissolve parliament, saying on national television that he would listen to the protesters but would not be forced to accede to their demands.

The rejection came after another largely peaceful day of demonstration during which thousands of red-shirted protesters called for a blood bath of sorts -- organizing a blood drive and threatening to spatter hundreds of liters of donated blood over government buildings and the prime minister's residence.

Abhisit spent much of Monday morning holed up in a safe house in a military compound, which was surrounded by protesters. He left by helicopter in order to survey the situation, after which the protesters left the site.

The protests, which were expected to continue Tuesday, have hurt the economy. The nation's tourism minister estimated the demonstrations might have resulted in a 20 percent drop in tourists. The impact on Chinese visitors appears to have been greater, with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce reporting a 50 percent cancellation rate.

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The protesters, who are trying to bring down the prime minister's administration, announced the blood drive an hour after Abhisit ignored a demand by the "red shirts" -- named for their clothing -- to dissolve parliament by noon Monday.

Nattawut Saikua -- one of the leaders of the anti-government United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship -- said the protesters will collect 1,000 liters (1 million cubic centimeters) of blood Tuesday and then throw it on the grounds of the Government House, which houses ministerial offices.

Video: Thai government under fire
RELATED TOPICS
  • Thailand
  • Bangkok
  • Coups

If Abhisit still refuses to dissolve parliament, the demonstrators said, they will collect another 1,000 liters of blood the next day and splash it on the headquarters of the ruling party.

The next day, they will collect 1,000 more liters and target the prime minister's residence, the demonstrators said.

The anti-government demonstrations began Friday. By Sunday, tens of thousands of protesters had poured into the center of Bangkok. The rallies have been largely peaceful. Abhisit said Monday that his government will not use force to quell the demonstrations.

Army Col. Sansern Kaewkumnerd said a number of grenades were tossed from a side street into the 11th Infantry headquarters, where the Center for the Administration of Peace and Order is coordinating the government response to the protests.

Two soldiers were hurt, the colonel said. The protesters are supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a bloodless military coup in 2006.

Thaksin was the only Thai prime minister to serve a full term and remains hugely popular. He fled the country in 2008 while facing trial on corruption charges that he says were politically motivated.

The protesters say Abhisit was not democratically elected and have demanded that he call new elections. About 50,000 security forces were mobilized ahead of the protests and additional soldiers were guarding Abhisit.

Since Thaksin's ouster, Thailand has endured widespread political unrest that has pitted Thaksin loyalists against Abhisit supporters.

Two people were killed and at least 135 wounded in riots in April 2009 when protesters clashed with demonstrators supporting the government.

CNN's Kocha Olarn contributed to this report

 
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