Thailand Army Hints at Possible Military Coup as Conflict Threatens to Tear Country Apart

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By Gopi Chandra Kharel | December 28, 2013 10:38 PM EST

Thailand's army has stated that if the conflict that is crippling the country fails to resolve soon, it might resort to a military coup.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha made the comments on Friday, a day after protesters - raging against the planned February elections - battled with police in Bangkok; an incident that left two dead and more than 140 injured, the Associated Press reported.

The army had ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a coup back in 2006. Asked whether another military takeover was possible, Prayuth was quoted saying: "The door is neither open nor closed...it will be determined by the situation. Whether it is going to happen, time will tell."

Earlier, multiple sources reported that one of the anti-government protesters was killed in a gun attack by the police in Bangkok on Saturday.

The opposition-backed protesters are looking to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra ahead of a fresh election scheduled for February 2. Battered by an unprecedented round of protests from the public, who mainly allege Yingluck to be a puppet rule of her brother Thaksin Shinawatra, the PM dissolved the parliament and called for a fresh election earlier in the month.

Prayuth's comments have been taken seriously in Thailand as his military has already staged 11 successful coups in the country till now; the latest one being in 2006.

His statement comes only a day after the Yingluck government announced that it would seek help from the military for protecting candidates and voters in the February election. The call for help from military demonstrates Yingluck's determination to return to power.

Protesters, on the other hand, are resolute in trying to obstruct the February 2 election from happening because if the election goes ahead, it is almost certain that the Shinawatra regime will come back to power, blessed by a torrent of votes from rural Thailand where the party has a huge number of supporters.

The deepening crisis in Thailand intensified on Thursday after protesters attacked a Bangkok stadium, where candidates gathered to plan for the February election. Protesters hurled rocks inside the building and tried to break into the area to halt the process, while police reacted with rubber bullets and tear gas.

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