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Children become latest victims of Thai violence

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Tayakorn Yos-ubon, left, and Noppawan Chairat, right, the parents of two children killed in Sunday’s bomb attack on an anti-government protest site, embrace each other as they wait for their children’s bodies at a hospital in Bangkok Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Two young siblings, 6-year-old girl Patcharakorn and her 4-year-old brother Korawit, along with another woman were killed in an apparent grenade attack against anti-government protesters occupying an upscale shopping area of Thailand’s capital on Sunday, the latest violence in a months-long political crisis that is growing bloodier by the day. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

Tayakorn Yos-ubon, left, and Noppawan Chairat, right, the parents of two children killed in Sunday’s bomb attack on an anti-government protest site, embrace each other as they wait for their children’s bodies at a hospital in Bangkok Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Two young siblings, 6-year-old girl Patcharakorn and her 4-year-old brother Korawit, along with another woman were killed in an apparent grenade attack against anti-government protesters occupying an upscale shopping area of Thailand’s capital on Sunday, the latest violence in a months-long political crisis that is growing bloodier by the day. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

Tayakorn Yos-ubon, left, and Noppawan Chairat, center, the parents of two children killed in Sunday’s bomb attack on an anti-government protest site, react as they wait for the bodies at a hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Two young siblings, 6-year-old girl Patcharakorn and her 4-year-old brother Korawit, along with another woman were killed in an apparent grenade attack against anti-government protesters occupying an upscale shopping area of Thailand’s capital on Sunday, the latest violence in a months-long political crisis that is growing bloodier by the day. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

Tayakorn Yos-ubon, the father of two children killed in Sunday’s bomb attack on an anti-government protest site, is embraced by his family as he breaks down during a ceremony at a hospital when he collects their bodies, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, in Bangkok, Thailand. Two young siblings, 6-year-old girl Patcharakorn and her 4-year-old brother Korawit, along with another woman were killed in an apparent grenade attack against anti-government protesters occupying an upscale shopping area of Thailand’s capital on Sunday, the latest violence in a months-long political crisis that is growing bloodier by the day. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

Nareerat Cha-aebram, the aunt who was chaperoning two children killed in Sunday’s bomb attack on an anti-government protest site, breaks down as she waits for the bodies at a hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Two young siblings, 6-year-old girl Patcharakorn and her 4-year-old brother Korawit, along with another woman were killed in an apparent grenade attack against anti-government protesters occupying an upscale shopping area of Thailand’s capital on Sunday, the latest violence in a months-long political crisis that is growing bloodier by the day. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

Noppawan Chairat, center, the mother of two children killed in Sunday’s bomb attack on an anti-government protest site, Noppawan Chairat, is held by her family members as they wait for their bodies at a hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Two young siblings, 6-year-old girl Patcharakorn and her 4 year-old brother Korawit, along with another woman were killed in an apparent grenade attack against anti-government protesters occupying an upscale shopping area of Thailand’s capital on Sunday, the latest violence in a months-long political crisis that is growing bloodier by the day. (AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

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BANGKOK (AP) — The father grimaced and wept as he struggled to contain his grief at the death of his two children in a grenade attack during a weekend trip to a mall in downtown Bangkok — the latest casualties in Thailand’s months of political crisis.

“I’m asking and pleading to every side to let my children be the last case (of violence) on Thai soil,” Tayakorn Yos-ubon, 33, said, his voice shaking, before retrieving their bodies from the morgue Monday.

The 4- and 5-year-old children were not part of the anti-government demonstrations. They had piled into a three-wheeled “tuk-tuk” taxi after eating at a KFC with their cousin and an aunt when the attack occurred Sunday near a busy intersection occupied by the protesters.

“We don’t know who did it but it shouldn’t have happened to children, my children,” Tayakorn said.

“I didn’t expect my kids to be brilliant. I just wanted them to be good people and to be able to get by in this society,” he added. “But this society, right now, is very cruel. Very, very cruel.”

The cousin suffered brain and lung damage and is in intensive care.

The siblings, along with a 5-year-old girl who died Saturday in another attack on a rally site in the eastern province of Trat, are the first children to be killed in the country’s latest round of political unrest, which has claimed at least 20 lives and injured more than 700 since November. Police have not arrested any suspects in the weekend attacks.

UNICEF on Monday called for the protest zones to be made “child-free” and urged parents to keep their children away.

UNICEF “condemns the violence that resulted in these tragic and senseless deaths and injuries to children,” it said in a statement.

The Thai public has recoiled in shock over the children’s deaths, and yet there seems to be no sign that either side in the impasse is softening its position. City residents have braced for more violence.

A police officer who was shot in the head during a clash with anti-government protesters last week also died Monday.

Protesters, mostly representing the urban elite and those in the south, are pressing for the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. They want her to be replaced by an appointed interim government to implement reforms they say are needed to fight corruption and permanently remove Yingluck’s family from politics.

Thailand has seen sometimes-violent political conflict since 2006, when then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck’s wealthy brother, was ousted by a military coup

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