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Thailand: Anti-government protesters storm army headquarters in Bangkok

Hundreds of anti-government protesters have forced their way into the compound of the army headquarters in central Bangkok. Others marched on the headquarters of the ruling Party, escalating week-long protests.

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An estimated 1,200 - 1,500 protesters entered the compound of the army headquarters in Thailand’s capital, in a bid to meet with the country's top general. The demonstrators forced their way in, breaking open a padlocked gate to the compound. Another report said demonstrators had climbed over the gate.

The storming of the army headquarters compound is seen as an escalation after a series of protests against the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra over the past week.

"They are now gathering in the courtyard, but they have not entered buildings," an army spokesman, Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd told the Associated Press. "We will make them understand that this is a security area and we will ask them to leave."

Elsewhere on Friday, protesters gathered outside of the headquarters of the prime minister’s ruling Pheu Thai Party, chanting slogans like "get out, get out."

Friday’s protests were just the latest in a series of rallies over the past week, in which demonstrators have seized several government buildings, while camping out in front of several others. Part of the strategy of the demonstrators is to try to put more pressure on the prime minister to step down by forcing a government shutdown and get civil servants to join in the protests.

The number of people taking part in the demonstrations is reported to have dropped since Sunday, when an estimated 180,000 took to the streets of the capital, but organizers have vowed to step up action ahead of King Bhumipol's birthday on December 5.

The protests are seen as the biggest threat to Yingluck's administration since she came to power in 2011.

Her opponents accuse her of taking orders from her billionaire brother, Thaksin Shinawatra. The former prime minister was ousted in a 2006 military coup and now lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai to avoid serving a jail term for a corruption conviction he claims was politically motivated.

The latest wave of protests was sparked by a bid earlier this month to push a general amnesty law through the Thai parliament. The legislation would have paved the way for a possible return of the former premier.

pfd/rg (AP, dpa)

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