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Thai protests turn deadly in Bangkok – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English

Thai protests turn deadly in Bangkok – Asia-Pacific – Al Jazeera English.

Clashes between protesters and police leave four dead, as anti-fraud officials announce charges against PM Yingluck.

Last updated: 18 Feb 2014 11:08
Clashes between police and opposition protesters left four dead and dozens wounded in central Bangkok, as anti-fraud officials announced that the country’s embattled prime minister will be charged with neglect of duty.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission said on Tuesday that if found guilty of the charges – which relate to a controversial rice subsidy scheme – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra could be removed from office.

The announcement came hours after gunfire and explosions shook an area of the city’s historic district just a short walk away from major tourist attractions, as riot police moved to clear sites of protest rallies.

Tear gas was also fired near Government House in the centre of Bangkok, a Reuters news agency witness reported, as thousands of police officers, including anti-riot squads, were deployed across the city in an operation the government called “Peace for Bangkok”.

“One policeman has died and 14 police were injured,” national police chief Adul Saengsingkaew told Reuters. “The policeman died while being sent to hospital. He was shot in the head.”

We saw demonstrators throwing rubble, rocks, bottles, anything that they could lay their hands on at the police riot shields.

Veronica Pedrosa, Al Jazeera correspondent, Bangkok

Al Jazeera’s Veronica Pedrosa, reporting from Bangkok, said that when police attempted to clear the area with bulldozers and ranks of police, they were met with resistance.

Pedrosa reported that there was a large explosion which was reportedly a M79 grenade as well as several smaller explosions. “At that point, police fired back apparently using with rubber-coated steel bullets and handguns,” she said. “We saw demonstrators throwing rubble, rocks, bottles, anything that they could lay their hands on at the police riot shields,” she added.

The Associated Press reported that Erawan emergency medical services said at least 42 people were injured. It was not immediately known if they were protesters or police.

Protesters are calling for Yingluck to resign and make way for an unelected people’s council to implement reforms they say are needed to end corruption.

The protesters had reinforced the numbers around Government House to keep Yingluck from returning to work there. The caretaker leader has dissolved the parliament and had been forced to work at the temporary office in Bangkok’s suburbs after protesters surrounded her office in central Bangkok demanding her resignation.

Since the protesters started blocking government offices late last year and major intersections a month ago, police have avoided dispersing demonstrators for fear of unleashing violence.

But on Monday, the government’s special security command centre announced it would reclaim five protest sites around the city for public use, a move made possible under a state of emergency declared in January.

Protest leader Rawee Matchamadon said that police rounded up about 100 demonstrators outside the Energy Ministry, north of the city, and took them away in police trucks for questioning at a police base in Bangkok’s northern outskirts on Tuesday. Live video on Tnews cable television showed no resistance from the protesters during the operation early on Tuesday morning.

Violent outbursts

The recent police operations conducted raises fears of further chances of violent outbursts. In previous weeks of protests, at least 10 people have been killed and scores injured.

At another operation site near the Golden Mount, a temple on a hill, anti-riot police moved in to round up more anti-government protesters and used bulldozers to clear out a makeshift stage. Gunshots were heard during the operation and a police officer was seen injured on a live television report on FMTV cable channel.

Near Government House, police officers were asking protesters to leave.

“It is necessary for the police to return peace to the society and unblock the road in order to let the students go to school,” a policeman said through a loudspeaker. “We beg you not to do against the law or defy our operation.”

Caretaker Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt told Associated Press the protesters hijacked two of the city’s public buses and used them to block a rally site at the Interior Ministry near the Grand Palace.

Thailand has been wracked by political unrest since 2006, when Yingluck’s brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by a military coup after being accused of corruption and abuse of power. Since then, his supporters and opponents have vied for power.

Ukraine protesters clash with riot police – Europe – Al Jazeera English

Ukraine protesters clash with riot police – Europe – Al Jazeera English.

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators have clashed for hours with riot police in Ukraine’s capital, attacking officers with sticks, stones and flares after new laws were passed to stifle protests.

The riots, some of the most violent Kiev has seen in recent times, were continuing well into the early hours of Monday morning.

They have further raised the stakes in the almost two-month standoff between the opposition and President Viktor Yanukovych which has seen protesters seize control of the main city square in Kiev

Health officials said 24 people were injured and three were hospitalised, while police said more than 70 officers had been hurt. The interior ministry said 10 people had already been arrested for mass rioting.

The protesters, many wearing hard hats and gas masks in defiance of new legislation banning them from covering their faces, also used stun grenades and fire extinguishers on officers at Sunday’s rally in Kiev. Several police buses and cars were also torched.

Police responded by using tear-gas and stun grenades of their own. Water cannons were also fired at the protesters in temperatures of -8C, but the clashes continued.

Despite appeals from opposition leaders not to resort to violence, and a personal intervention from Vitaly Klitschko, a Ukrainian boxer turned politician, protesters continued to throw smoke bombs and hurl fireworks and other objects at police.

Against this backdrop, Yanukovych met Klitschko at the former’s Mezhygirya residence and the pair pledged to create a cross-party commission to resolve the ongoing crisis.

“The president pledged to create on Monday morning a commission with representatives from the presidential administration, cabinet and opposition to find a solution to the crisis situation,” Klitschko’s party quoted him as saying.

The protests, initially prompted by Yanukovych’s decision to reject a trade deal with the European Union and instead opted for closer ties with Russia. They intensified following police violence.

International condemnation

Up to 100,000 people had massed in defiance of sweeping new laws aimed at stamping out anti-government demonstrations.

Al Jazeera’s Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kiev on Sunday, said the clashes underscored the divide among the protesters.

“The protests, which has been going on for the past eight weeks, have largely been peaceful and well-organised, but some of the protesters feel frustrated and they want to take the protests on to the streets and confront authorities on the streets of Kiev,” she said.

Last week Yanukovych caused uproar at home and abroad when he approved a number of laws that limit Ukrainians’ rights to protest, civic activism and free speech.

Other provisions ban the dissemination of “slander” on the internet and introduce the term “foreign agent” to be applied to NGOs that receive foreign funding.

Ukraine On The Edge: The 7 Minute Video Summary | Zero Hedge

Ukraine On The Edge: The 7 Minute Video Summary | Zero Hedge.

The following seven minutes of mayhem look eerily reminiscent of the violent pre-ambles to the middle-east’s recent coups or non-coups. As anti-government protesters demonstrated against the shunning of a European trade agreement (President Yanukovych – “I will not allow any serious economic losses and decline of living standards”); the clashes became ever more violent as the police cracked down. Following heavyweight boxing champion (and opposition leader) Vitali Klitschko’s call for a new government – “our main task is Yanukovych’s resignation. But the first step is the resignation of Azarov’s government” – the clashes left at least 265 people injured. The crackdown followed Interior Minister comments that they “won’t allow Ukraine to become another Libya or Tunisia, where uprisings toppled governments in recent years.” Of course, the main difference is the Ukraine is now squarely under Putin’s sphere of influence.

 

0:20 Initial fireworks followed by police flash-bangs and tear gas…

1:45 Some standard police beatings

3:00 Ubiquitous projectile exchange

3:30 Police charge…

4:30 Serious police beatings handed out

5:30 The two fronts stare each other down

6:00 Serious police reinforcements

 

 

Saudi Prince Defects: ‘Brutality, Oppression As Government Scared Of Arab Revolts’

Saudi Prince Defects: ‘Brutality, Oppression As Government Scared Of Arab Revolts’.

 

Tunisia suspends constitution body – Africa – Al Jazeera English

Tunisia suspends constitution body – Africa – Al Jazeera English.

 

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