Thai PM flees from police compound

Thai PM flees from police compound
Thai protesters protesting against their government in Phuket.

BANGKOK - About 30,000 protesters launched a "people's coup" on Thailand's government on Sunday, swarming state agencies in violent clashes, taking control of a state broadcaster and forcing the prime minister to flee a police compound.

But after a day of skirmishes between protesters hurling stones and petrol bombs against riot police firing back with teargas, the demonstrators failed to breach heavily barricaded Government House, office of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

"They haven't seized a single place," National Security Council Chief Paradorn Pattanathabutr told Reuters. "They go to different places and they go back out."

The protesters sowed chaos in one of Southeast Asia's biggest cities, breaching a police line, seizing seven police trucks, and forcing Yingluck to move to an undisclosed location from a building where she had planned to give media interviews.

Small fires burned from petrol bombs that landed by police trucks. Protesters pulled at barbed-wire barricades as others washed teargas from their eyes with bottled water.

It is the latest dramatic turn in a conflict pitting Bangkok's urban middle class and royalist elite against the mostly poor, rural supporters of Yingluck and her billionaire brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, a former prime minister ousted in a 2006 military coup.

The deep detonation of stun grenades, followed by the jeers of protesters, echoed across the historic government quarter, not far from the Khao San Road tourist area, after a chaotic night of gun and knife battles in east Bangkok in which three people were killed and at least 58 wounded.

Hospitals reported 46 people injured on Sunday.

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