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Anti-govt protesters storm Thai army headquarters

Photo: AFP

Some 1,000 protesters forced their way into the Thai army's headquarters on Friday after days of mounting protests against the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, military sources said.


Thousands of protesters forced their way into the Thai army's headquarters in Bangkok on Friday, calling on the military to join the anti-government demonstrations, army sources said.

"Protesters slammed opened the gate and are now in the army headquarters," a military spokeswoman said, adding that the army chief was not in his office at the time.

Earlier in the week, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra invoked an emergency security law in parts of the capital to cope with the escalating protests against her government. The Internal Security Act authorises officials to seal off roads, take action against security threats, impose curfews and ban the use of electronic devices in designated areas.

Peaceful rallies are still allowed under the emergency law.

Yingluck announced the action Monday night after demonstrators seeking to remove her from office occupied parts of the finance and foreign ministries.

In recent days, tens of thousands of demonstrators have joined rallies to challenge the prime minister and her brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, in the biggest street protests since the mass rallies of 2010 that turned deadly.

Protesters accuse Yingluck of acting as a proxy for her brother, the billionaire telecoms tycoon-turned-politician who is adored by many of the country's rural and urban working class but loathed by many in the elite and the middle classes.

Mounting fears of coup

There are mounting fears that the current demonstrations could turn violent or result in a coup like the one that saw Thaksin toppled by the military in 2006.

The divisive ex-leader now lives in Dubai to avoid a jail term for corruption and terrorism charges that he contends are politically motivated. But few doubt that Thaksin remains the real power behind the ruling party.

Protesters are demanding the end of the "Thaksin regime" and want to replace the government with an unelected "people's council".

Demonstrators announced that they would be marching to the headquarters of Yingluck's Puea Thai party on Friday, a day after they cut off electricity to the national police headquarters in Bangkok.

The government has urged its supporters and security forces to avoid violent confrontations with the demonstrators, saying the protests will soon run out of steam of their own accord.



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