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Bangkok Demonstrators Force Government Troops to Withdraw

Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters turned out in the streets of Bangkok once again on Saturday, demanding the ouster of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and new elections.

The demonstrators targeted several points in the city's old historic quarter where troops have been stationed since the protests started two weeks ago, forcing the military to withdraw to avoid confrontation.

The so-called "Red Shirts," drawn mostly from Thailand's poor, northern region, are supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in 2006 in a military coup over alleged corruption.

Bangkok was reported tense on Saturday following two separate grenade attacks that wounded one soldier and two civilians.

Former Prime Minister Thaksin, who is living in exile to avoid a jail sentence, remains widely popular with Thailand's rural poor and urban working classes. He frequently addresses his supporters by videolink and he recently urged them to increase pressure on the government.

The on-going protests are having an effect on Thailand's important tourism industry. The Association of Thai Travel Agents says visitor arrivals fell by between 20 and 30 percent this month. Business meetings have also been hit.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.