Leaders of demonstrations that plunged the Thai capital into chaos said Tuesday that they were calling off their protests after combat troops ringed their last stronghold. About 2,000 die-hard protesters began to abandon their encampment around the seat of government following two days of rioting that left two dead and more than 120 injured in clashes between troops and demonstrators across Bangkok.
"We have decided to call off the rally today because many brothers and sisters have been hurt and killed. We don't want everybody to suffer the same. And we will not allow more deaths," said key protest leader Jatuporn Phromphan.
He said the protesters, who are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, "can come back and fight again. Democracy will not end today."
Jatuporn said the leaders were ready to give themselves up to authorities, though there were no reports of arrest warrants issued for them.
Earlier, army spokesman Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd had said troops were ready to move against the protesters, who had been encamped around Government House since March 26, and Jatuporn had vowed that they would make their last stand there.
Sansern said that only 2,000 protesters remained around Government House, the demonstrations had swelled to 100,000 last week, but that troops still had to cordon off four potential flash points in the city.