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Thailand: PM leaves capital amid violent protests
February 25, 2014, 7:29 pm


Military police examine the site of one of the deadly bomb blasts in Bangkok [Xinhua]

Military police examine the site of one of the deadly bomb blasts in Bangkok [Xinhua]

Protests continued in Thailand on Tuesday, following days of violence that have left at least five people dead, including four children, according to government officials who also disclosed that the Prime Minister had relocated from the capital Bangkok

Thai authorities said masked gunmen attacked the protest sites, but also said that they had made no arrests. Anti-government demonstrators blamed the government and third parties loyal to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for the attacks.

Deputy National Police spokesman Anucha Romyanan said unknown assailants fired from a speeding car at protesters in a camp near Lumpini Park in downtown Bangkok on Tuesday.

On Sunday, an explosion in an upscale Bangkok shopping district killed a woman and a young brother and sister. Another attack in the city’s eastern province killed a five-year-old girl on Saturday. Reports said a second five-year old girl died from her wounds on Tuesday.

Yingluck has condemned the violence.

The Prime Minister’s office announced on Monday that the PM would be overseeing her official duties from an undisclosed location 150km outside of Bangkok.

Meanwhile, thousands of protesters flocked to the streets and shut down the main ministerial facility Government House, stopping officials from returning to work.

The situation has become so volatile that Thailand’s military chief broke his months-long silence and called for adherence to the country’s constitution. General Prayuth Chan-Ocha asked all sides to refrain from violence.

Protests began in November against a bid by the government to officially pardon former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck’s brother, a former business magnate currently in exile in Dubai.

Thaksin was ousted in a military coup in 2006 and accused of corruption and abuse of power. Yingluck, who belongs to the political movement founded by her brother, is also being investigated for corruption, as voices calling for her resignation grow louder.

On February 20, the Thai National Anti-Corruption Committee (NACC) announced they would charge Yingluck with corruption for her role in a controversial rice subsidy scheme that critics say has harmed the country’s rice exports.

The policy had the government buying crops from farmers at prices up to 50 per cent higher than world prices over the last two years. The NACC said it leaves much room for financial corruption.

Yingluck has denied the accusations.

Farmers have also recently joined the protesting crowds, calling for delivery of their delayed payments. Government officials have been quoted blaming delays on protests, which have stalled parliament’s convening and therefore any loan applications by the government.

Source: Agencies