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One dead as protests in Thailand turn violent

PTI | Last Updated: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 00:53

Bangkok: A man was shot dead in clashes in the Thai capital on Saturday between supporters of Premier Yingluck Shinawatra and anti-government protesters, who intensified their campaign by besieging several government buildings.

Gunfire was heard during the clashes near Rajamangala Stadium between protesters and "red shirts" or supporters of Yingluck`s brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who is currently in self-exile.

The protesters also attacked a bus and a taxi carrying "red shirt" supporters near the stadium, the first incidents of violence after a week of opposition protests led by former deputy premier Suthep Thaugsuban.

It was not immediately clear who fired the shots. Police confirmed that a man was killed and five others were injured.

Earlier in the day, the protesters broke into the compounds of the Department of Special Investigation and the Communications Authority in northern Bangkok -- an area that is a hub for government buildings -- and padlocked the doors to block workers from entering.

The siege came a day after hundreds forced their way into the army headquarters in central Bangkok, urging military leaders to support their campaign against the embattled premier.

Thousands of "red shirts" also converged in the capital today for a pro-government rally. The crowd at Rajamangala Stadium was estimated at 70,000, media report said.

Thaugsuban, the leader of the protesters, declared that tomorrow would be their "victory day" and the demonstrations would be intensified even if breaking the law is required.

"On Sunday, brothers and sisters, we will announce our victory and defeat of the Thaksin regime," Suthep said. He called on supporters to surround police headquarters, government house and even a zoo.

"We need to break the law a little bit to achieve our goals," he told protesters, who resorted to blowing whistles at the people they are upset with.

As protests intensified, police installed concrete barriers and barbwires around gates of government buildings. Riot police donned full riot gear and carried batons and shields.

Government officials packed important documents in case they were unable to enter their offices on Monday.

For the past one week, thousands of protesters have been marching in Bangkok in a bid to unseat Yingluck, whom they accuse of acting as a proxy for her fugitive brother and former premier Thaksin Shinwatra.

The demonstrations have raised fears of fresh instability in Thailand and pose the biggest threat to Yingluck`s regime since she came to power in 2011.

Yingluck yesterday ruled out fresh polls and repeated her call for negotiations to resolve the crisis.

Deputy Prime Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana said that the demand by protesters that a "people`s council" be set up was unconstitutional.

First Published: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 00:53
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