Thailand braced for a threatened shutdown of its capital on Monday (January 13) by protesters who want to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and install an unelected government, as fears grew that the south-east Asian country could be heading for civil war.
More than ten thousand anti-government protesters marched through downtown Bangkok as tents and stages were set up in at least seven residential and main business areas.
Protesters led by former opposition politician Suthep Thaugsuban started blocking major intersections late on Sunday (January 12), aiming to create traffic chaos in a city with an estimated 12 million population where roads are clogged at the best of times.
Eight people, including two police officers, have been killed and scores wounded in violence between protesters, police and government supporters in recent weeks, although there has been no sustained fighting between rival groups.
One person was killed in a shooting overnight near a planned protest site in northern Bangkok. A police spokesman said an unidentified gunman shot a man near a roadblock set up by anti-government protesters. It was not immediately clear if the man was a protester.
Yingluck has called a snap election for February 2, which protest leader Suthep has rejected.
Suthep's stated goal is to eradicate the influence of the Shinawatra family on Thai politics.
Last week, Thailand's anti-corruption body pressed charges against 308 politicians, mostly from Yingluck's Puea Thai Party, for trying to change the constitution by making the Senate a fully elected body.
The charges could lead to them being kicked out of parliament if they retake their seats in February.
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