WASHINGTON - US Secretary of State John Kerry has called on Thailand to investigate "politically-motivated" attacks, denouncing the deaths of several children as "horrifying".
"As allies and close friends of the Thai people, we are profoundly saddened by the deaths and injuries that have shaken the country," Kerry said in a statement on Friday.
"I call upon Thai authorities to investigate these attacks swiftly and bring those responsible to justice," he said, adding "violence is not an acceptable means of resolving political differences".
Thai opposition protesters seeking to force Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office said on Friday night they would abandon most of rally sites in the capital, ending their "shutdown" of Bangkok, which has lasted some four months.
The move follows increasingly frequent gunfire and grenade attacks targeting the protest sites, mostly at night.
Violence linked to the rallies has left 23 people dead and hundreds wounded in recent weeks, including four children killed in two separate grenade and gun attacks on opposition rallies last weekend.
"As a father and grandfather, the death of several innocent children is particularly horrifying, and must at last be a wake-up call to all sides to refrain from violence, exercise restraint, and respect the rule of law," said Kerry.
He insisted that the United States does not take sides in Thailand's politics, saying it was up to the Thai people to resolve their differences.
But he highlighted US concern about "the employment of other tactics that undermine Thailand's democratic values and processes, inhibit compromise, and further exacerbate political tensions".
"All sides should commit to dialogue in the spirit of seeking common ground to address differences and find a peaceful, democratic way forward," he added.