UN urges Thailand to 'step back from brink'

UN urges Thailand to 'step back from brink'

The United Nations urged Thailand to "step back from the brink" to avoid further loss of life as troops and protestors today remained locked in a tense confrontation after deadly street clashes.

Leaders of the "Red Shirt" protestors offered the government a truce on Monday after five days of violence in central Bangkok that have left 38 people dead and more than 270 wounded. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called on both sides to negotiate an end to the violence, which has turned parts of the Thai capital into no-go zones.

"Ultimately, this situation can only be resolved by negotiation. I urge leaders to set aside pride and politics for the sake of the people of Thailand," she said in a statement. Pillay said the situation could spiral out of control as thousands of protestors defied government warnings to leave their fortified camp in the heart of Bangkok or risk jail.

"As the latest government deadline passes, there is a high risk that the situation could spiral out of control," she said. "To prevent further loss of life, I appeal to the protestors to step back from the brink, and the security forces to exercise maximum restraint in line with the instructions given by the government," she added.

The escalating violence has turned parts of the city of 12 million into no-go zones as troops use live ammunition against protesters, who have blocked streets with burning tyres and fought back, mainly with homemade weapons.

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