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Thai protests ease as police lift key barricades

BANGKOK (AP) — Anti-government protesters crossed heavily fortified barriers and reached the gates of the Thai prime minister's office and the city police headquarters without resistance from police Tuesday.

Police used cranes to remove concrete slabs and barbed wire barricades on a road leading to the police headquarters after agreeing to let the protesters into the building. After bitterly resisting them with tear gas and rubber bullets since Saturday, police also stood by as protesters removed the barriers to the prime minister's office and walked through on Tuesday.

The unexpected reversal of strategy by the government suggests it no longer wants to confront the protesters after three days of clashes that have left three people dead and more than 230 injured and raised concerns about the country's stability.

Government officials did not comment on the developments, and it was not clear if this would provide more than a lull to the violence and the crippling political deadlock that undermines Thailand's democracy, economy and tourism.

After breaching the barriers on the road, the protesters milled outside the gates of the prime minister's office, known as Government House, and made no attempt to go through the gray gates of the sprawling compound.

"This is a victory for us. This is a victory for the protesters," said Kusol Promualrat, wearing a military camouflage green jacket, standing in front of the gate.

The police pulled back "because they know that if this doesn't stop more people will get hurt, more people will die."

On Monday night, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban told his supporters to storm the Bangkok Metropolitan Police Bureau, one of the main buildings they have vowed to seize as part of a campaign to topple the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

At the same time, Yingluck told a news conference that while she is willing to do anything it takes to end the violent protests, she cannot accept Suthep's demand to hand power to an unelected council. Yingluck was elected with an overwhelming majority in 2011, and many observers see the protesters' demand as unreasonable if not outlandish.

In some of the worst clashes since the protests began last week, on Monday protesters commandeered garbage trucks and bulldozers, and tried to ram concrete barriers at the Government House and other offices. Police repelled them by firing tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets, as protesters shot back explosives from homemade rocket launchers.

1 Comment
December 3, 2013    kingsolomon@
Doesn’t Thailand have a judiciary system? If they have one then the protesters could course their demands through the courts and let the courts decide. It’s as if only the government and the military exist and there's no judicial system.
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Thai anti government protesters wave national flag as they break the barricades during demonstration at the Government House in Bangkok on December 3.

(AFP)

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