BANGKOK — Thailand's prime minister defended Saturday the deadly army crackdown on the Red Shirt protesters besieging the capital, saying there was no turning back as clashes raged in the center of Bangkok.
"The government must move forward. We cannot retreat because we are doing things that will benefit the entire country," Abhisit Vejjajiva said in a national broadcast, striking a defiant tone that made it clear he was in no mood for a compromise.
The spiraling violence has raised concerns that Thailand — a longtime tourism magnet that promotes its easygoing culture as the "Land of Smiles" — is teetering toward instability. The political uncertainty has spooked foreign investors and damaged the vital tourism industry, which accounts for 6 percent of the economy, Southeast Asia's second largest.