Thai army to clear Bangkok's Rajprasong from protesters; Gen Anupong appointed head of security operations; Thaksin to sue foreign minister for "terrorist" remark
Mr Abhisit said that he was replacing his deputy as head of security operations in Bangkok, giving Gen Anupong broader powers to tackle "terrorism".
"The government reassures you that we will restore normalcy," he said in a nationally televised address on Friday night.
"Deputy Prime Minister Suthep is a civilian, and the situation has changed," said one source. "He will still play an important role, as key decisions must still come from the government. But to keep things moving fast and effectively, the line of command must be concise."
"There will be an effort to retake the area. We can't allow protests there because it damages the country," army spokesman Sunsern Kaewkumnerd told reporters.
The move came after commandos earlier Friday stormed SC Park Hotel in Bangkok where the leaders of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) were hiding, but the mission ended in failure after the suspects managed to escape authorities.
The operation "was not a success but the government will carry on", Mr Abhisit admitted.
"Police kicked the door open and threw smoke and stun grenades into the room, but luckily I ran to the window and used an electric cord to climb down," said UDD leader Arisman Pongruangrong, who fled the hotel, adding all protest leaders had managed to escape.
"He wanted to kill me. The policeman tried to kill me," Mr Arisman told the red-shirted crowd outside the hotel.
"Now our mission is to hunt down Abhisit and (deputy PM) Suthep. Our patience is at its limit," he said at the main demonstration site in Bangkok's commercial district, Rajprasong.
Two police officers were reported taken by the demonstrators from the hotel to the rally site and briefly interrogated, but they later told reporters that they had not been taken hostage but wanted to ensure Mr Arisman's safety.
In a related news, a legal representative of convicted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced Mr Thaksin was planning to sue Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya after he called him a "bloody terrorist".
"Dr Thaksin has assigned a team of lawyers to bring a libel case, both civil and criminal, against Mr. Kasit," Noppadon Pattama said.
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