Skip to main content

Thai protesters set terms for negotiations

By the CNN Wire Staff
"Red Shirt" anti-government protesters take to the streets Friday in Bangkok.
"Red Shirt" anti-government protesters take to the streets Friday in Bangkok.
  • Thai protesters outline terms for possible return to negotiating table
  • Government urged to lift state of emergency, acknowledge deaths of protesters
  • Country gripped by tension after weeks-long political standoff
  • Prime Minister Abhisit met with military chiefs earlier Friday

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) -- The leaders of anti-government protesters in Thailand offered Friday to return to the negotiating table -- but only if the government meets certain demands.

The demonstrators will resume negotiations if the government lifts a state of emergency and other measures and shows responsibility for the deaths of protesters on two days this month, said Weng Tojirakarn, a co-leader of the anti-government Red Shirt protesters.

His remarks come as tension remains high on the streets of Bangkok, where a political standoff has gripped the country for several weeks.

The Red Shirts have been clashing with the Thai military in a Bangkok area that serves as a financial hub.

iReport: Are you there? Share your story, images

Another co-leader of the Red Shirts, Veera Muskapong, met with foreign diplomats Friday and told them he might meet with the government if it meets certain conditions.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, meanwhile, huddled with the chiefs of the country's armed forces early Friday after a string of grenade attacks killed at least one person and wounded dozens of others.

Video: Thailand inching closer to civil war?
Video: Police standoff in Bangkok
Video: Grenades explode near Bangkok protesters
Video: Biz district next possible battleground

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said in a televised address that the grenades were launched from the area where the Red Shirts have been encamped for weeks, but the protesters denied any responsibility for the attacks.

Watch red shirt protests

Suthep told Thai television earlier that three people died in the attacks, but Bangkok's Erawan Emergency and Rescue Center later revised the number to one. At least 87 people were wounded, the center said.

The Thai Department of Special Investigation warned that people responsible for the grenade attacks could face the death penalty, the MCOT news agency reported.

The attacks prompted the U.S. State Department to issue a travel alert advising American citizens of the escalating violence in Bangkok.

Suthep said riot police and helicopters were deployed to join Thai troops in the area, which was still littered with glass amid the standoff.

Across the barricades, the Red Shirts were playing music and trying to encourage a festive atmosphere. Demonstrators told CNN late Thursday they wanted to drive home the point that their rallies are supposed to be peaceful.

Thrown into the volatile mix are a group of protesters who called themselves the Multicolored Shirts -- they oppose the anti-government Red Shirts. On Friday, they took to the streets in large numbers.

Explainer: What are the protests in Thailand about?

Thursday's five explosions took place near an elevated train station where the protesters are gathered, said Col. Sansern Kaewkumnerd, spokesman for the Center for Resolutions under Emergency Situation. Three of the grenades landed on the roof of the station, but at least one landed outside a nearby hotel, Sansern said.

The Red Shirts support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a bloodless military coup in 2006. They want Abhisit to dissolve the government, hold new elections and leave the country.

CNN's Arwa Damon and Kocha Olarn contributed to this report.