News / Asia

Rival Protests Held in Thai Capital

Anti-government ''red shirt'' protesters hold a picture of former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra as they wait for him to address them over a link during a rally near the Democracy monument, the site of bloody clashes with security forces last year, in Ba
Anti-government ''red shirt'' protesters hold a picture of former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra as they wait for him to address them over a link during a rally near the Democracy monument, the site of bloody clashes with security forces last year, in Ba

Thousands of anti-government Thai protesters demonstrated Sunday in Bangkok, for the latest in a series of rival political rallies ahead of elections expected later this year.

The French news agency quotes police as saying some 15,000 "Red Shirts" - the movement behind weeks of mass anti-government protests in 2010 - gathered near Bangkok's Democracy Monument to call for the release of 18 jailed movement leaders detained since last year.

Nearby, nationalist "Yellow Shirts" rallied separately to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva over his handling of a long-running border dispute with neighboring Cambodia.

Thousands of police flooded the protest area Sunday, but there were no reports of injuries or violence.

The rallies took place despite a government ban imposed last week on protests in main government and commercial areas of Bangkok. They also come ahead of an election that the prime minister said could take place in the first half of the year. Abhisit's term ends in December.

Some of the worst and deadliest political violence in modern Thai history erupted last year, during a 10-week protest in central Bangkok by Red Shirt activists, most of whom support ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Gunmen clashed repeatedly with soldiers during the protests before the military crushed the uprising.  Ninety-one people were killed in the chaos and about 1,800 others were injured.

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