5 die in Thai anti-government clashes, PM flees police complex

5 die in Thai anti-government clashes, PM flees police complex

At least five persons were killed as a week-long anti-government protests in Thailand today entered a dangerous phase when demonstrators launched a "people's coup" on the embattled regime of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, forcing her to flee a secure police compound.

Police hurled tear-gas and water canons at about 30,000 protesters trying to breach barricades and cut barbed wire protecting Government House, office of the Prime Minister, seeking to oust Yingluck who came to power in 2011.

The Prime Minster was not present at the time. The government denied rumours that she had fled the country but her whereabouts were unknown.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban called for a general strike starting from tomorrow. Other leaders urged protesters to seize 10 government offices, six television stations, police headquarters and the Prime Minister's offices in what they are calling a "people's coup".

"Today is an important day. We'll go to anywhere that is important to the government and we'll paralyse it from tomorrow onwards because nobody will be able to work tomorrow," Suthep, opposition Democrat Party leader and former deputy Prime Minister, said.

The protesters hurled stones and petrol bombs at police near the metropolitan police headquarters. Their unrelenting campaign entered a volatile phase today that paralysed parts of Bangkok and followed a night of gun and knife battles between pro- and anti-government protesters in which five persons were killed and over 54 wounded.

Deputy Police Commissioner-General Veerapong Chiewpreecha said five persons were killed inside Ramkhamhaeng University in clashes that continued till this morning.

Anti-government protesters swarmed many state agencies and took control of Thai PBS television station. Another group of protesters managed to break through barriers to enter the compound of the Interior Ministry.

The protesters declared Sunday "V-Day" as they upped their ante to topple Yingluck and end her family's more than decade-long influence over Thai politics. They accuse Yingluck of acting as a proxy for her fugitive brother and former Premier Thaksin Shinwatra who was ousted in a 2006 coup.

National police spokesman Piya Utayo said troops were being sent to a government complex occupied by protesters since Thursday and the Finance Ministry, occupied since Monday. "We have sent forces to these places to take back government property," he said on national television.

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