BANGKOK, April 13 (Xinhua) -- Violence in Thailand is escalating Monday despite government troops attempted to gain control and restore order to the capital Bangkok.
The whole-day's stand-off and clashes between anti-government "red shirted" protestors and Thai police and soldiers have left more than 70 people injured.
A building in Thailand's education ministry complex has been set ablaze after being hit by petrol bombs. Protestors also seized seven buses and set them on fire in front of the army headquarters, sending flames shooting high into the sky, witnesses said.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on national TV that the protestors had no right to break the law or violate other people's rights. He added that he would not step down under violence threat.
Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban also warned of possible sabotage of "red shirted" people on Monday night.
In a televised program, Suthep, who is in charge of national security, asked police and soldiers to take action against protesters who break the law.
Under emergency rules, authorities are empowered to detain any person without charge for up to 30 days.
The violence started before dawn Monday after Abhisit declared a state of emergency on Sunday afternoon in Bangkok and some districts of five provinces nearby, citing the escalating violence of red-shirted protesters.
Soon after the declaration of the state of emergency, soldiers and armored carriers were deployed onto the Bangkok street.
At about 4:30 a.m. local time Monday morning, some 300 red-shirted protestors used a seized bus to crash soldiers stationed at Din Daeng District in north Bangkok. Soldiers fired warning shots into the air and used teargas to disperse the protestors.
Till early afternoon, the Thai security authorities have managed to disperse red- shirted protestors from many areas in Bangkok as traffic have resumed.
Supreme Commander Songkitti Chakkrabat, who is a director of a newly-set-up emergency-tackling-command, said in a televised statement in the afternoon Thailand's peace and stability would be restored as quickly as possible in order to bring normal life back to the Thai people.
"We will attempt to bring the key transportation systems, working life, and people's life back to normal quickly," said the Supreme Commander in a television address.
He said the government will not use weapons against the protestors, but protesters must not break the law, otherwise, the security forces have rights to protect themselves.
On the other side, several thousand "red shirts" were still encamped at the Government House.
The leader of red-shirted protestors Natthawut Saikua told supporters to use the Government House as its final protest stronghold and urged supporters to mass there to deter a crackdown by government troops, according to the report on the website of the newspaper Bangkok Post.
He urged protestors elsewhere in Bangkok not to clash with the authorities.
The flare-up came at the start of the Thai New Year holiday, traditional Songkran Festival which falls on April 13-15. The chaos will give another blow to tourism, one of Thailand's biggest foreign exchange earners. Several countries and regions, including Australia, China and Russia have issued travel warnings to their citizens.
To solve the political unrest, Thailand's former Senate speaker Suchon Chaleekrua Monday led a group of former senators to file a petition, seeking Thai king's intervention to end the current political violence.
The political unrest in Thailand has been ongoing since former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was removed by a military coup in 2006.
In November last year, swarms of anti-government demonstrators, or called as "yellow-shirted" protestors, marched to the streets and shut down the country's main international airport for one week.
After a court ordered the removal of the previous pro-Thaksin government, Abhisit was appointed by the Parliament in December, prompting displeased Thaksin supporters to stage regular street protests.