Thai rubber farmers, police clash as crisis deepens

Rubber farmers gather for a protest in Surat Thani September 4, 2013. Reuters
Rubber farmers clashed with security forces in southern Thailand as protesters torched cars and police fired tear gas in the latest unrest to shake the politically turbulent kingdom, officials said Friday.
More than two dozen police officers were injured and 11 protest leaders were arrested as the demonstration in Prachuap Khiri Khan province over falling rubber prices turned violent late on Thursday, according to the authorities.
Two vehicles, apparently belonging to local media, were set ablaze during the clashes, which flared after some 400 farmers tried to block a major highway to the south of the country, provincial police commander Major General Thanet Soonthornsuk told AFP news agency.
"Twenty-five police officers were wounded. Two of them are in a serious condition after they were hit on the head by rocks," he said, adding that demonstrators had thrown acid at him.
The protests broke out late Thursday in the Bang Saphan district of Prachuap Khirikhan province. Many there support the opposition Democratic Party and accuse Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra of neglecting their concerns.
Deputy Prime Minister Pracha and other officials are flying to the region Friday for talks with protest leaders, who have already rejected the government\’s offer of a subsidy linked to the size of each farmer\’s plantation. The farmers want to be paid a guaranteed price for their product.
Thailand is the world\’s top rubber producer and exporter. The protests, which have now lasted for two weeks, have delayed some shipments of rubber overseas.
Source: Agencies
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