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Anti-government protesters call off rally in Thailand

From Kocha Olarn, CNN
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  • NEW: Anti-government protesters call off a rally they had planned for Tuesday
  • Rally called off because 1,500 troops have been stationed along a Bangkok road
  • Protesters demanding PM dissolve government, hold new elections and leave country
  • At least 25 people killed in deadly police-protester clashes earlier this month

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) -- Anti-government protesters called off a rally they had planned for Tuesday because of an immense military presence on the streets of Bangkok.

"We are not going to mobilize to anywhere because there are too many soldiers on the street," said Nattawut Saikua, a leader with the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD). "We are afraid we could lose position."

The Thai military has stationed about 1,500 troops along a Bangkok road amid anticipation of renewed clashes with the protesters who are demanding that the prime minister dissolve the government, hold new elections and leave the country.

The road, Silom Road, is considered a city financial center and home to some of the nation's largest companies.

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The protesters, called 'Red Shirts,' had planned to march to Silom from Ratchaprasong intersection at the heart of Bangkok's commercial center.

Demonstrators from across the country have camped out by the thousands at the intersection for days.

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On Tuesday, the protesters reversed their rally call on the chance that troops might move in and take over the intersection.

The Red Shirts are supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a bloodless military coup in 2006.

They have been demanding that current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva dissolve parliament and call new elections.

Explainer: What are the protests in Thailand about?

Red Shirts leader Weng Tojirakarn has said the group wants Abhisit to leave the country.

At least 25 people were killed and more than 850 wounded in police-protester clashes earlier this month.

On Friday, Abhisit handed security operations entirely to the country's military after three protest leaders escaped from a hotel that was surrounded by security forces.

"The important problem now is the terrorism," Abhisit said, referring to what authorities describe as a terrorist group mixing among the protesters. He spoke in a televised broadcast following three days of silence amid the tumult in his country.

The prime minister weeks ago announced a state of emergency in Bangkok and nearby areas.