Thai protesters target PM's party headquarters

Thai protesters target PM's party headquarters

BANGKOK - Thousands of Thai opposition protesters stormed into the army headquarters in Bangkok on Friday, calling on the military to support their fight to bring down the government.

"Protesters slammed opened the gate and are now in the army headquarters," a military spokeswoman said, adding that the army chief was not in his office.

Flag-waving demonstrators massed on the lawn inside the army compound in Bangkok's historic district, sheltering under sun umbrellas.

"We want to know whether the army will stand by the people not a dictator," said a protest leader, Amorn Amornrattananont.

The protesters - a mix of royalists, southerners and the urban middle class sometimes numbering in their tens of thousands - are united by their loathing of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, whose younger sister Yingluck is prime minister.

It was previously reported that hundreds of police were deployed Friday at Thailand's ruling party headquarters as defiant opposition protesters set their sights on a new high-profile target, seeking to intensify their fight to bring down the government.

Boisterous demonstrators have besieged key ministries in Bangkok in the biggest street protests since mass rallies against the previous government three years ago degenerated into the kingdom's worst civil strife in decades.

The protesters - a mix of royalists, southerners and the urban middle class sometimes numbering in their tens of thousands - are united by their loathing of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

The controversial former telecoms tycoon was ousted in a coup in 2006 and lives in self-imposed exile, but he is widely believed to be the real power behind the embattled government of his younger sister, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Protesters are demanding the end of the "Thaksin regime" and want to replace the government with an unelected "people's council".

Demonstrators announced Friday they would march to the headquarters of Yingluck's Puea Thai party, a day after cutting off the electricity to the national police headquarters in Bangkok, in their latest act of provocation against a key symbol of authority.

The move came just hours after Yingluck and her party easily won a parliamentary no confidence vote.

"We are deploying two companies of police (around 300 officers) at Puea Thai party headquarters after they asked for protection," deputy national police chief Worapong Siewpreecha told AFP.

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