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Thai Protesters Reach Government, Police HQ as Police Withdraw



Thai opposition protesters swarmed government and police headquarters in Bangkok on Tuesday, after security forces pulled back, saying they did not want a confrontation.

Waving flags and blowing whistles in celebration, the protesters filled the yard outside the Government House, which holds the prime minister's office, and the metropolitan police facilities.

The protesters left a short time later and there no confrontations with police, but some of the protesters vowed to continue pressing their demands.



"It's not over yet. This is just part of it, because the prime minister has not resigned or dissolved the house yet, and we have not gotten what we want yet."



Earlier, police removed barbed-wire barricades outside the buildings, in what is seen as a change of strategy following days of violent clashes with protesters.

Police chief Kamronwit Thoopkrajang said his forces will not use tear gas and have been ordered to withdraw in line with the government policy of avoiding confrontation.

In a brief televised speech Tuesday, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said the political crisis had begun to ease, but was not over. The prime minister again vowed that police will not use violence to quell the protests.



Fears of widespread violence were raised over the last several days, when at least four people were killed and scores wounded in the protests, some of which escalated into street battles.

Opposition leaders are proposing an alternative to the country's democracy - a vaguely defined people's council made up of representatives from many professions - and vowed to take over every government ministry until Ms. Yingluck resigns.

Hundreds of demonstrators still remain at the Finance Ministry and some other government facilities. Some observers said the demonstrations seem to be fading, though protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban on Tuesday warned the campaign would go on.

Both sides have expected at least a temporary lull in the protests this week out of respect for the birthday of the widely revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The conflict pits Bangkok's urban middle class and royalist elite against the mostly poor, rural supporters of Ms. Yingluck and her billionaire brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, a former prime minister ousted in a 2006 military coup.

The latest demonstrations were triggered several weeks ago by an amnesty bill that would have allowed Mr. Thaksin to return home and avoid a two-year jail term for corruption. The Senate rejected the bill but protests have continued.

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