Dozens arrested as Thai police raid protest siteAgence France-Presse. Bangkok/New Age Online
Dozens of Thai opposition protesters were arrested Tuesday during a police operation to seize back besieged state buildings in the capital Bangkok, sparking a tense standoff near the government headquarters.
It was the first time that so many protesters have been detained since mass rallies seeking to overthrow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra began more than three months ago.
About 100 demonstrators were arrested at an energy ministry complex on charges of violating a state of emergency, National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanatabut told AFP.
‘There was no resistance,’ he said. ‘They were overwhelmed by the police forces.’
Riot police with batons, shields and helmets were also deployed near the government headquarters, after protesters returned to areas around the complex following a similar police operation on Friday to reclaim the building.
The two sides were locked in a tense confrontation across barbed wire barricades, with demonstrators rejecting a police demand to leave the area around Yingluck's offices within one hour.
‘The government cannot work here anymore,’ said a spokesman for the anti-government movement, Akanat Promphan.
‘The arrests don't affect us. The will of the people is still strong. The government is trapped. It has no way forward.’
On Monday, demonstrators poured buckets of cement onto a sandbag wall in front of a gate to Government House.
The protesters are demanding Yingluck resign and hand power to a temporary, unelected government that would carry out reforms to tackle corruption and alleged misuse of public funds before new elections are held.
Thailand has been periodically rocked by mass demonstrations staged by rival protest groups since a controversial military coup in 2006 that ousted then-premier Thaksin Shinawatra -- Yingluck's brother.
Eleven people have died and hundreds of others have been injured in political violence linked to the latest round of rallies, which have been targeted by a series of grenade attacks and drive-by shootings by unidentified perpetrators.
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