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Thai Rubber Farmers Clash with Police

In this photo taken on Sept. 5, 2013, rubber farmers confront and scuffle with Thai anti-riot police officers on a highway in Prachuab Khirikhan province, southern Thailand.
Thai officials say at least 21 police officers were injured during clashes with rubber farmers demanding greater government financial support to help offset falling prices.

Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnok said Friday that police were forced to use tear gas to contain the crowd, which was blocking a main road in southern Thailand. Some of the protesters threw bricks and bottles containing acid at the officers. Pracha said some youths also fired at police. At least two cars belonging to local news crews were burned.

The protests broke out late Thursday in the Bang Saphan district of Prachuap Khirikhan province. Many there support the opposition Democratic Party and accuse Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra of neglecting their concerns.

Deputy Prime Minister Pracha and other officials are flying to the region Friday for talks with protest leaders, who have already rejected the government's offer of a subsidy linked to the size of each farmer's plantation. The farmers want to be paid a guaranteed price for their product.

Thailand is the world's top rubber producer and exporter. The protests, which have now lasted for two weeks, have delayed some shipments of rubber overseas.