Thai anti-government protesters battled Tuesday with riot police trying to clear protest sites in Bangkok, leaving at least four people dead in a gun battle.
Three protesters and one police officer were killed in fighting near Government House in the capital. Officials say around 60 people were wounded and about 100 protesters were detained.
Tear gas, gunfire and explosions could be heard during the midday fight, and both sides appeared to be using weapons. Previously, police had vowed not to use violence in their efforts to clear camps of protesters trying to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Most protesters gave up quietly, but a researcher for Human Rights Watch told VOA that militants in the group near Government House had M79 grenade launchers and were firing at police.
Later Tuesday, Thailand\’s National Anti-Corruption Committee announced it will press charges against Ms. Shinawatra. The commission said the prime minister was aware that corruption costing millions of dollars was involved in a rice-buying program that paid farmers above-market prices, but took no action.
Shinawatra was ordered to answer the charges against her next week .
Critics say the prime minister pressed the rice-buying program to win support in rural areas, which already represent the main base of her ruling Pheu Thai party.
At least 14 people have been killed in Thailand since November in a series of small-scale clashes and attacks on demonstrators, in the country\’s worst political violence since 2010. Yingluck\’s opponents contend her government is corrupt and controlled by her billionaire brother, exiled ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Yingluck tried to resolve the conflict with early elections this month. But the opposition boycotted the vote, and disrupted it in several areas, preventing a definitive result until more polls can be held.
Source: VOA and agencies