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3 Killed as Thai Police, Protesters Battle in Bangkok

Thai anti-government protesters battled Tuesday with riot police trying to clear protest sites in Bangkok, leaving at least three people dead.

Officials say two protesters and one police officer were killed in the fighting near the Government House. Around 60 people were wounded.

Tear gas, gunfire and explosions could be heard during the midday fight. Both sides appeared to be using weapons.

The violence came as police attempted to clear several camps of protesters trying to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Elsewhere, protesters gave up without resistance. At the Energy Ministry, about 100 people were detained following a police operation.

Police say the protesters are violating a state of emergency, but have vowed not to use violence in dispersing the protests.

Hours after the clashes, Ms. Yingluck suffered a setback when the National Anti-Corruption Committee announced charges against her.

The committee said the prime minister was aware of corruption within a national rice-buying scheme, but continued the program anyway. It ordered her to face the charges on February 27.



Under the program, the government purchased rice from Thai farmers for above market prices. The government is now stuck with large stockpiles of rice it has not been able to sell.

Critics say the program cost the country millions of dollars. They say Mrs. Yingluck used the initiative to win support among the rural population, which represents the main base of her ruling Pheu Thai party.

It was a rallying point for Ms. Yingluck's opponents, who say her government is corrupt and controlled by her billionaire brother, the exiled ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Ms. Yingluck tried to resolve the conflict with early elections this month. But the opposition boycotted the vote, and disrupted it in several areas, preventing a definitive result until more polls can be held.

At least 13 people have been killed since November in a series of small-scale clashes and attacks on demonstrators. It is Thailand's worst political violence since 2010.

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