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Thai army chief urges calm, doesn't rule out coup

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 27, 2013 at 8:19 a.m.

BANGKOK — Thailand's army chief Friday urged both sides in the country's bitter political dispute to show restraint, but did not explicitly rule out the possibility of a coup.

Thailand has been wracked by two months of political tensions and occasionally violent street protests pitting the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra against protesters seeking to oust her. The army has staged 11 successful coups in the country's history, so its intentions are being watched carefully.

"That door is neither open nor closed," the army chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, said in response to questions from reporters as to whether a military intervention was likely. "It will be determined by the situation."

Prayuth also reiterated a request that people stop asking the army to take sides in the dispute.

"Please don't bring the army into the center of this conflict," he said.

On Thursday, protesters seeking to disrupt elections scheduled for Feb. 2 battled with police in clashes that left two people dead and injured more than 140. Thirty of the injured remained hospitalized Friday.

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