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4 Dead In Thai Protests; Prime Minister Faces Charges In Rice Deal

An anti-government protester is caught in tear gas during clashes with riot police in Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday.
An anti-government protester is caught in tear gas during clashes with riot police in Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday.

Four people were killed Tuesday in Thailand and at least 60 injured as police tried to clear anti-government protesters around Bangkok.

The dead included a policeman, the Bangkok Post reported, as well as three civilians. Here's more from the paper:

"The clash erupted as police tried to take back the protest site at Pan Fah Bridge from anti-government protesters with the Dhamma Army. The authorities took control of most of the area but what sounded like gunshots and explosions were heard shortly before noon and police stepped back."

Protests have been ongoing since late last year, and caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra called for elections in December. The opposition boycotted the vote, which was held earlier this month.

Tuesday's violence came as Yingluck was accused by the country's anti-corruption panel of irregularities in selling rice to China. Here's more from The Associated Press:

"The National Anti-Corruption Commission said Yingluck's government proceeded with the scheme despite advice from experts that it was potentially wasteful and prone to corruption. The government has been months late in making payments to farmers for the rice they pledged to sell at above-market prices.

"The commission said Yingluck has been called to formally hear the charges on Feb. 27. If it decides to submit the case to the Senate for possible impeachment, Yingluck will immediately be suspended from performing her official duties pending a Senate trial."

As NPR's Scott Neuman has previously reported "The latest round of unrest in Thailand was sparked by the introduction of an amnesty bill that would have allowed Yingluck's brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, to return to the country, despite his conviction on corruption charges. Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 military coup."

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