Thai Army Chief Calls for New Elections བོད་སྐད།

Thailand's army commander has urged the government of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat to step aside and call a new election to resolve the country's political crisis.

Speaking Wednesday after a meeting of military, government and business leaders, General Anupong Paojinda denied he was staging a coup. He also ordered anti-government protesters to leave Bangkok's international airport and to end their campaign against the government.

The prime minister's office and protest leaders quickly rejected the suggestions.

People's Alliance for Democracy leaders say they will not leave the Suvarnabhumi international airport until Mr. Somchai steps down.

Tensions between the two sides continue to escalate. Police say a gang of government supporters in the northern city of Chiang Mai shot dead an anti-government activist on Wednesday.

The incident occurred just before Mr. Somchai arrived at an airport in the northern city.

Mr. Somchai was originally expected to return to Thailand's international airport from an overseas trip, but flew to Chiang Mai instead.

PAD protesters took over the international airport on Tuesday after months of demonstrations, stranding thousands of travelers.

Thailand's current crisis began over two years ago when former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a military coup.

Elections late last year failed to resolve the situation when former allies of Mr. Thaksin were voted into office.

Protesters accuse Mr. Somchai of being a proxy for his brother-in-law, Mr. Thaksin.

Protests in Thailand intensified on Monday when opposition supporters forced parliament to delay a session by blocking access to the building.

On Tuesday, anti-government protesters chased down government supporters on a major highway in the capital, Bangkok. At least 11 people were wounded during the street fight, some with gunshot wounds.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.