Thai police clash with protesters for second straight day

BANGKOK (AP) — Police in Thailand clashed with anti-government protesters for a second straight day on Wednesday, firing tear gas and rubber bullets and chasing down fleeing demonstrators in Bangkok, the capital.

Protesters initially confined themselves mostly to throwing paint at the police but after organizers called off the rally, a group gathered in the nearby Din Daeng area, firing slingshots and hurling firecrackers and small explosive devices called ping-pong bombs. They also set fire to a vehicle that burned fiercely beneath a nearby elevated roadway.

Erawan Medical Center reported eight police and one protester were injured in the clashes.

The demonstrators had planned to march to the residence of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to demand his resignation amid a severe coronavirus outbreak that has exposed the government to accusations of complacency, corruption and incompetence, charges it denies.

There were similar protests on Tuesday and Saturday in the same area.

Though the demonstrations have focused on the current COVID-19 crisis, they are part of a wider push for sweeping political change that includes Prayuth’s resignation, a new constitution and -– most contentious of all -– fundamental reform of the powerful but opaque monarchy.

The rallies fell away due to legal action by the authorities, infighting among protest groups and the coronavirus resurgence, but resumed recently as organizers capitalized on growing public discontent over the state of the country.

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