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Thai riot police, anti-gov’t protesters clash in Bangkok

August 15, 2021 GMT
Anti-government protester shoots a firework to riot police during a protest in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. Protesters demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha for his failure in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Anuthep Cheysakron)
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Anti-government protester shoots a firework to riot police during a protest in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. Protesters demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha for his failure in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Anuthep Cheysakron)
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Anti-government protester shoots a firework to riot police during a protest in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. Protesters demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha for his failure in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Anuthep Cheysakron)

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — Thai riot police fired tear gas and sprayed water cannons Sunday as more than 100 anti-government protestors marched on an army base in the capital Bangkok where Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has his residence.

The group of mainly young demonstrators pelted the police lines that blocked their way, hurling rocks, fireworks and small explosives known as “ping-pong bombs.”

Images on Thai television showed a police traffic control booth in flames.

Sunday marked the fourth time in the past seven days that protestors and police have fought in the Din Daeng area of the city.

Demonstrators are calling for Prayuth’s resignation over his perceived bungling of the government’s coronavirus vaccination program. Thailand has seen infection rates surge in the past few weeks while vaccination rates remain low.

But the protests are also part of a wider push for sweeping political change that includes the resignation of the government, a new constitution and – most contentious of all – fundamental reform of the powerful but opaque monarchy

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Elsewhere, thousands of protestors in vehicles and riding motorbikes gathered for a mobile anti-government rally. They met in three locations to hear speeches before slowly driving around the city. By staying in vehicles they hoped to minimize participants’ potential exposure to COVID-19.

One of the main organizers, Nattawut Saikua, a veteran activist and former deputy minister, appealed to those taking part to keep it peaceful, saying violence would alienate many potential supporters.

As police and protesters clashed in the Din Daeng area, Nattawut went to the scene to ask the protestors to disperse.

“We are not here for violence. We’re not here to beat the officers or riot police. We’re here to beat Prayuth Chan-ocha,” he said.