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Anti-corruption officials in Thailand filed charges against their own prime minister Tuesday just hours after three people died when riot police tried to clear out protesters camping in the capital Bangkok.
The country's National Anti-Corruption Commission alleged in a statement that a rice-buying scheme by the administration of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra showed irregularities and fostered corruption.
Hours earlier some 15,000 police took to the streets of the capital in operation "Peace for Bangkok," an attempt to clear out protesters who have been camping out for weeks and calling for Shinawatra's resignation, The Associated Press reported.
The AP said one police officer, a 52-year-old male civilian, and one other person died in the clashes, and dozens of people were injured. Officials said the demonstrators launched grenades at the riot police and gunfire was heard at around midday near the prime minister's offices.
"One policeman has died and 14 police were injured," national police chief Adul Saengsingkaew told Reuters. "The policeman ... died while being sent to hospital. He was shot in the head."
Shinawatra is seen as a stand-in for her elder brother, Thaksin, who was deposed in a military coup in 2006. Opponents say the government is still in the thrall of Thaksin Shinawatra and have called for its suspension in favor of an unelected council to sort out the country's alleged problems with corruption.
His opponents criticize Thaksin Shinawatra for draining public funds with populist policies designed to lure rural voters. The rice-buying scheme, which allows farmers to buy rice at above-market prices, is viewed by opponents as one of the worst examples of this.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission has summoned Shinawatra to appear to face the charges on February 27.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.