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Thai Protesters Storm Interior Ministry, Reports of Gunfire as Thousands Protest


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Thousands of anti-government protesters are demonstrating in the Thai capital, Bangkok, despite a declared state of emergency forbidding the gatherings. The protests come just one day after demonstrators forced the Thai government to cancel an international summit and evacuate world leaders from the country.

Demonstrators forced their way into the Ministry of Interior Sunday and attacked a car they believed to be carrying Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Authorities said the Prime Minister was not injured.

Gunshots were reported but it was not clear who fired or if anyone was hurt.

Thousands were protesting at government locations throughout Bangkok despite the government declaring a state of emergency in the capital.

The State of Emergency bans gatherings by more than five people and allows authorities to detain persons without charge and censor the media.

Soldiers and armored vehicles have been deployed throughout the city.

A sea of red-clad demonstrators gathered in front of police headquarters demanding the release of a protest leader.

Just down the street from police headquarters, demonstrators seized two armored personnel carriers, dancing on the roofs and waving red flags.

Soldiers did not appear to be resisting the protesters.

Riot police guarded the gates to police headquarters but demonstrations were mainly peaceful.

Nonetheless, a police colonel, who did not wish to be identified, told VOA he was not sure if protesters would be allowed to continue demonstrating.

"Police officers have problem now because we have to protect our headquarters, by the law. Law and order," he said.

Demonstrators at the police headquarters were angry that Thai singer Arisman Pongruengrong, a high profile protest leader, was taken into custody earlier in the day.

He was accused of urging protesters to disrupt a weekend meeting in Thailand of world leaders at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Embarrassed and unable to guarantee security, the Thai government was forced to cancel the summit and evacuate world leaders by helicopter.

Anti-government demonstrations in Thailand have been growing. Protesters are demanding new elections.

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