UK & World News

  • 18 February 2014, 12:56

Thailand Clashes Kill Four As PM Charged

A police officer was among four people killed during gun battles as police cleared anti-government protesters who have blocked state buildings since November.

The violence in Bangkokcame as corruption charges were filed against Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who if found guilty could be removed from office.

A 52-year-old civilian was also confirmed to be one of the dead after suffering a head injury. Emergency services provided no further details about the other deaths.

At least 64 people from both sides were wounded as 15,000 officers were sent to clear the demonstrations on Tuesday.

Some 183 arrests were made at one rally near the energy ministry complex.

Police, who accused protesters of throwing grenades, said five key sites had been reclaimed.

Fifteen people have died since protests began three months ago.

The demonstrators want to oust MsYingluck, who they see as a proxy for older brother and telecoms tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled by a military coup in 2006.

The charges filed against Ms Yingluck by Thailand's anti-corruption body relateto the government's rice-buying scheme. She has been summoned to answer the charges on February 27.

"Although she knew that many people had warned about corruption in the scheme, she still continued with it," a statement said.

"That shows her intention to cause losses to the government so we have unanimously agreed to charge her."

The scheme, introduced in 2011, saw farmers paid above the market price for their grain.

Ms Yingluck has been forced to abandon her offices in Government House by the protesters, who have also blocked major roads since January.

A state of national emergency was declared last month.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban was filmed addressing police: "We are not fighting to get power for ourselves.

"The reforms we will set in motion will benefit your children and grandchildren, too. The only enemy of the people is the Thaksin regime."

The operation to quell the protestors - who want a temporary, unelected government to be empowered to make reforms - was called the Peace for Bangkok Mission.

Tear gas was released near Government House but it is not yet clear which side was responsible.

"I can guarantee that tear gas was not used by security forces," said National Security Council Chief Paradorn Pattanathabutr. "The forces did not take tear gas with them.

"Protesters are the ones who threw tear gas at the security forces."

The demonstrations are a continuation of an eight-year battle between the Bangkok middle classes and royalist establishment against the poorer, mostly rural supporters of the premier and her brother.

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