At least two people were killed after violence erupted between rival political factions in Thailand’s capital late Saturday and early Sunday. It was the first violence during a week of protests aimed at unseating the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
A Thai government supporter was shot to death early Sunday in Bangkok, Reuters reported. Riot police used tear gas and water cannons to force back protesters trying to force their way into the prime minister's office compound, and police also drove back crowds at police headquarters, The Associated Press reported.
Shots were fired Saturday night near the Rajamangala sports stadium, which was hosting a rally of about 700,000 red-shirted government supporters, according to Reuters. One young man was killed by the gunfire, while at least five people suffered injuries from gunshot wounds.
National Police Deputy Spokesman Anucha Romyanan told the AP that the dead man was 21-year-old Thaweesak Photkaew.
Five others at the rally were injured by knives or rocks. There also were reports of scattered violence during the day, as anti-government protesters attacked people they believed were going to the rally at the stadium. Students attacked buses carrying government supporters, smashing windows and causing some minor injuries to passengers.
The goal of the anti-government protesters is to oust Yingluck’s government, which came to power following the 2011 general election, over the belief that her regime serves the interests of her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The former prime minister was ousted by a military coup in 2006 following corruption charges, but remains popular with certain sectors of the population, mostly in the rural North.
<p>Tensions have flared recently, especially as the current ruling Pheu Thai party sought to pass an amnesty law through Parliament that would have allowed for Thaksin Shinawatra to return from exile. </p> <p>Before Saturday's violence, protesters had focused on occupying government buildings, with the AP reporting that the Finance Ministry and other government offices had been seized. </p> <p>In response, police said on Saturday that the military had agreed to dispatch 2,730 personnel to aid in security efforts on Sunday.</p> <p>Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report. </p>