More gunshots have reverberated in Bangkok as opponents of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra tried again to march on key buildings. Two people have been killed in circumstances that are still unclear.
Tensions were high in the Thai capital on Sunday after anti-government protesters clashed near a sports stadium where pro-government “Red Shirts” drawn from Thailand’s rural and urban working class had gathered.
Authorities said clashes that started Saturday and continued Sunday morning left at least two people dead and 45 wounded.
Outside Government House, 1,000 anti-government protesters, drawn more from Thailand’s middle-class, faced off with riot police, who shouted through a loudspeaker: “We’re all brothers and sisters. Please don’t try to come in!”
Police later fired tear gas nearby and outside the Metropolitan Police Bureau which, according to Reuters, Yingluck Shinawatra has been visiting.
Some 21,000 police plus and nearly 3,000 troops were deployed to protect government facilities around the capital. The opposition bid to seize buildings began on Monday.
Prime Minister Shinawatra vowed not to order the use of force.
She offered talks to opponents who accuse her of serving the interests of her brother, ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. He has lived abroad since 2008 to avoid a jail sentence.
Her offer was reportedly rejected by Suthep Thaugsuban, a former parliamentarian with the opposition Democrat Party, who called for the departure of the “Thaksin regime.”
He urged demonstrators to “march on the Commerce Ministry peacefully.”
Thangsuban helped oversee a military crackdown on pro-Thaksin supporters three years ago that left more than 90 people dead.
The latest unrest has again raised fears of instability similar to conflicts in 2006 and 2008, when anti-Thaksin demonstrators occupied two airports for a week.
An ill-advised bid by Yingluck’s ruling Pheu Thai party to push an amnesty law through Parliament that would have allowed Thaksin’s return from exile sparked the latest wave of protests.
Thaksin, who lives in Dubai, says the corruption conviction against him and the associated jail sentence were politically motivated.
ipj/tj (AP, AFP, dpa)