BANGKOK- A Thai policeman was shot dead as security forces clashed with opposition protesters during an operation to reclaim besieged government buildings in Bangkok Tuesday, resulting in dozens of injuries and arrests.
The sound of gunfire and explosions shook an area of the city’s historic district just a short walk away from major tourist attractions, after riot police armed with batons, shields and helmets moved to clear rally sites.
“One policeman was shot dead and four injured,” Police Lieutenant General Prawut Thavornsiri told AFP, adding that one of the casualties was seriously injured by shrapnel from a blast.
A total of 44 people were hurt, according to the city’s Erawan emergency medical centre.
Demonstrators rejected a police demand to leave the area around Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s offices within one hour, a day after they poured buckets of cement onto a sandbag wall in front of a gate to the compound.
“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.”
About 100 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, National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanatabut told AFP.
It was the first time that so many protesters have been detained since mass rallies seeking to overthrow Yingluck and her administration began more than three months ago.
]The protesters are demanding Yingluck resign and hand power to a temporary, un-elected government that would carry out reforms to tackle corruption and alleged misuse of public funds before new elections are held.