AT least four people were killed and 64 wounded in Bangkok yesterday when Thailand's riot police tried to evict anti-government protesters from camps across the capital.
One target was a camp outside Government House, the office of Yingluck Shinawatra, the prime minister. Shots were fired as police removed the demonstrators and tore down their makeshift stage.
Some protesters were armed and one allegedly threw a hand grenade at the police.
The latest demonstrations began last November when thousands gathered to demand Ms Yingluck's resignation.
She was elected prime minister in 2011 with broad support in rural Thailand – but not in the capital.
Ms Yingluck is the sister of Thaksin Shinawatra, a billionaire who served as PM until 2006 when he was overthrown.
Critics say that Ms Yingluck is controlled by her brother.
The demonstrators want to break the grip of the Shinawatra family on Thai politics.
The police operation succeeded in clearing some of the protest camps. Outside the energy ministry in northern Bangkok, some 144 demonstrators were arrested and taken away for questioning.
At another camp outside the interior ministry police said demonstrators hijacked two buses and used them to block the approach to their rally.
"The government cannot work here anymore ," said Akanat Promphan, a spokesman for the protesters. "The will of the people is still strong. The government is trapped. It has no way forward."
Ms Yingluck has imposed an emergency decree, allowing the government to detain protesters without charge for 30 days.
Thailand's unrest has claimed at least 15 lives since November. In another blow for Ms Shinawatra, the state anti-corruption agency accused her of improperly handling an expensive rice subsidy scheme, putting her in jeopardy of being impeached.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission said Ms Yingluck's government proceeded with the scheme despite advice it was potentially wasteful and prone to corruption.
The government has been months late in making payments to farmers for the rice they pledged to sell at above-market prices. (© Daily Telegraph, London)