Thailand protesters surround offices

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Anti-government protesters have surrounded the Thai prime minister’s temporary office in Bangkok to demand her resignation a day after clashes with police left at least five people dead.

Yingluck Shinawatra and her cabinet ministers did not go to work at the temporary offices in the city outskirts to avoid creating tension, a security spokesman said.

Protesters have blocked access to buildings in the Government House area in Bangkok city centre where the prime minister’s regular office is located.

Nearly 70 others were injured in the clashes yesterday as hundreds of riot police moved in to clear a protest site.

Multiple gunshots were heard near the prime minister’s main offices, where police had started to remove protesters and dismantle a makeshift stage. Witnesses said shots were fired by both sides and police later withdrew.

Ms Yingluck’s elected government has been attempting to avoid violence to keep the powerful military from taking power. Thailand has been wracked by political unrest since 2006, when Yingluck’s brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by a military coup. Since then, his supporters and opponents have vied for power, sometimes violently.

The violence erupted after police moved into several locations around the city to detain and remove protesters who have been camped out for weeks to press for Yingluck’s resignation. They want the formation of an unelected people’s council to replace the government after repeatedly failing to win an election and accusing Ms Yingluck of corruption.

They have blocked access to government offices since late last year and occupied key road junctions around Bangkok for about a month. On Monday, the government’s special security command centre announced it would reclaim five protest sites around the city for public use, a move made possible under a state of emergency declared in January.