Thailand's army chief said the military -- one of Thailand's most powerful institutions -- would not step into the current political crisis, saying that the country's laws were enough to confront deadly protests that have punctuated a three-month power struggle.
In a televised address, Gen. Prayuth Chanocha said the military did not want to exacerbate an already volatile situation.
"If we use full military force, there is no guarantee that the situation would return to normalcy," he said, in an address widely seen as a signal to the Thai public.
"The current conflict has spread wider than in 2010," he said, adding that the political impasse had more complicated conditions and involved more disparate groups.
"The military does not want to use weapons and forces against our own Thai (people)," he added. "Under the current situation, constitution laws are perfectly effective. If there is a continuation of a loss of life, the country will fall."
War of words
Meanwhile, Thailand's rival factions continued their war of words.
Protest leader and former deputy prime minister, Suthep Thaugsuban, warned that his rivals in the red-shirted United Front (UDD) were planning a coup.
"At the UDD rally they also discussed the possibility of a separatist movement, dividing Thailand into two," Suthep said. "But we have never entertained this notion. We are fighting to keep Thailand united as one. They can rally around the 'red flag' but we will continue to salute our tricolor flag."
At the "war drum" rally on Sunday, Jarupong Ruengsuwan, the Pue Thai Party Leader, said that violence threatened to escalate.
"Let me leave a warning to all people and to those who want to harm the country and the People of Thailand that Thais own 10 million guns in this country," he said. "Whoever wants to insult the power of people, they will see."
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Sunday condemned weekend attacks that killed four people -- three of them children -- and pledged to bring the perpetrators to justice.
A six-year-old-girl, a four-year-old boy and a woman of about 40 died when a bomb exploded at an anti-government rally outside a shopping mall in the Ratchaprasong area of Bangkok, the Erawan Emergency Center reported. The children were siblings.
The 22 wounded included a pre-teen boy who was in critical condition, said Lt. Gen. Paradon Patthanathabut, Thailand's national security chief.
On Saturday night, a 5-year-old girl was killed by a stray bullet when attackers opened fire on an anti-government demonstration in eastern Trat province, police Col. Jirawut Tantasri said. Another 34 were wounded, he said.
Patthanathabut said police think the two incidents are connected.
"We believed that there is an element which is armed and prone to use violence mean to achieve their goal."
The deaths were the latest to punctuate three months of protests against the Shinawatra government. In a statement issued Sunday night, Yingluck said her government "will not tolerate terrorism" and would prosecute the killers "without exception."
"I would like to ask all sides of the political divide that we may see things differently and there are many ways to express those differences," Yingluck said. "But the use of violence that lead to deaths are not the civilized way of the living."
Protests to continue
Both the Ratchaprasong and Trat demonstrations were organized by the opposition People's Democratic Reform Committee, which vowed to continue protests despite the attacks. On its Facebook page, the movement called for supporters to donate blood at hospitals that were treating the wounded from the Ratchaprasong bombing.
"Although we have lost several friends in these attacks, I would like to insist that we follow our course of peaceful, unarmed, and nonviolent demonstrations," party leader Suthep said in a statement on the Facebook page. "We are on the right course. We are fighting the good fight. Please carry on as we have."
In Trat, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) east of Bangkok, Jirawut said the girl who died was eating noodles with her grandmother when two cars passed the demonstration of about 1,000 people. The attackers threw grenades from the first car while the occupants of the second began shooting into the crowd, he said.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement Sunday condemning the violence and calling for it to end. He "urges the parties to respect human rights and the rule of law, prevent any new attacks and engage in meaningful dialogue toward ending the crisis and advancing reform," the statement read.