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Thai protesters start Bangkok \”shutdown\” in bid to topple PM

Thousands of anti-government protesters began a blockade at major intersections in Bangkok on Monday as they sought to paralyse Thailand's capital, stepping up pressure on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign.

Police and soldiers kept watch as the city of some 12 million people ground to a halt, but there were no signs that the government was preparing to resist the protesters with force.

The upheaval is the latest chapter in an eight-year conflict pitting Bangkok's middle class and royalist establishment against the mostly poorer, rural supporters of Yingluck and her self-exiled brother, billionaire former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Anti-government protesters demonstrate outside the Ministry of Interior, November 26, 2013.Getty Images

Thaksin was ousted by the military in 2006 and sentenced to jail in absentia for abuse of power in 2008, but he still looms large over Thai politics and is the dominant force behind his sister's administration from his home in Dubai.

Eight people, including two police officers, have been killed and scores wounded in violence between protesters, police and government supporters since the campaign against Yingluck's government started in November.

Shootings were reported overnight near a government administrative complex the protesters began to blockade late on Sunday and at the headquarters of the opposition Democrat Party, which has thrown in its lot with the protest movement.

(Read more: In Thailand, rallying cry is against too much democracy)

The protesters have set up permanent barricades and encampments at seven big intersections, but others are being blocked, too. At one, near the American and Japanese embassies, around 100 protesters sat on the road to halt traffic. Som Rodpai, 64, said they would leave after nightfall, amid fears their citywide protest could spark a violent reaction.

"I'm not scared," said Som. "We came here unarmed."


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