Thai PM faces charges as 3 killed in clashes

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Members of a rescue team evacuate an injured riot policeman after clashes with anti-government protesters in Bangkok on Tuesday. AFP PHOTO

Members of a rescue team evacuate an injured riot policeman after clashes with anti-government protesters in Bangkok on Tuesday. AFP PHOTO

BANGKOK: Thailand’s embattled premier will be charged with neglect of duty, anti-graft officials said on Tuesday, as clashes between police and opposition protesters left three dead and dozens wounded in central Bangkok.

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The National Anti-Corruption Commission said 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.

A policeman was shot dead and two civilians were killed, according to the Erawan emergency center. Nearly 60 other people were injured, including one foreigner.
The protesters have staged more than three months of mass street rallies demanding Ying–luck’s resignation.

Police launched another operation to reclaim besieged government buildings and clear rally sites in the capital on Tuesday, tearing through razor wire and sandbag barri–cades near the city’s Democracy Monument.

They met fierce resistance from protesters and were eventually forced to retreat amid volleys of gunfire. It was unclear who was shooting.

Around 150 opposition demonstrators were arrested at a different rally site at an energy ministry complex in the capital on charges of violating a state of emergency—the first mass detentions during the current protests began.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission said Yingluck had ignored warnings that the flagship rice policy was fostering corruption and causing financial losses. It summoned her to hear the charges on February 27.

Demonstrators have blocked major intersections in a self-styled “shutdown” of the capital, although attendance has dropped sharply compared with December and January—when at the peak tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of people took to the streets.

Yingluck’s government held a general election on February 2 to try to ease tensions but the opposition boycotted the vote, saying it would not end the long-running political crisis.

AFP

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