2 dead, 45 wounded in anti-government protests in Thailand

Updated 10:30 PM EST, Sat November 30, 2013
06:27 - Source: CNN
Thailand PM survives no confidence vote

Story highlights

NEW: The death toll is double what was reported the day earlier

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra survived a no-confidence vote in parliament

Throngs of protesters are seeking her ouster

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(CNN) —  

Two people have been killed and 45 others were wounded when clashes broke out during anti-government protests in Thailand’s capital, an official said.

Pornthep Saeheng, from the city’s Erawan emergency center, gave CNN the updated toll – which was double the number reported on Saturday, when the violence occurred.

At least one of those killed was a university student who was shot inside Ramkhmhaeng University, according to a spokesman for the center.

The incident occurred on the same day that 2,000 members of the armed forces were called in to protect government buildings after demonstrators stormed a number of them, according to Lt. Gen. Paradon Pattanathabut.

Saturday’s violence came after weeks of heightened tensions. On Friday, hundreds of protesters stormed army headquarters in Bangkok to demand help overthrowing the government led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Yingluck’s critics accuse her of being the puppet of her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, a telecommunications tycoon and former premier who was ousted in a 2006 coup. Yingluck denied that charge in an interview with CNN’s Anna Coren on Friday.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra survived a no-confidence vote in parliament Thursday, but throngs of protesters are seeking her ouster.

“The government is ready to open a space for dialogue,” the embattled prime minster said in a brief televised statement after the vote. She added that officials are willing to “listen to all voices of people, including those who are still occupying the governmental offices.”

But a spokesman for Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party said she would not resign or dissolve the parliament.

“She will stay in power,” Prompong Nopparit said.

Thaksin was a polarizing figure who was removed from power by the military in 2006, while he was in New York. Except for a brief return in 2008, he has lived in exile since. Thai courts have convicted him of corruption and sentenced him in absentia to two years in prison.

Courts have also frozen billions of dollars of his assets, but he is believed to still have a great deal of money held elsewhere.

In recent days, thousands of protesters have ramped up pressure on the government led by Thaksin’s sister by surrounding government buildings. On Monday, protesters in Bangkok stormed the finance ministry building and converted it into a command center.

The current round of protests started as a response to a government-backed amnesty bill that could have extended a pardon to Thaksin Shinawatra and opened the door for his return to Thailand.

The Thai senate rejected the bill on November 11, but opposition demonstrators have called since then for Yingluck’s government to be replaced.

At various points during the past few days, demonstrators have surrounded the foreign ministry, the agriculture ministry and the interior ministry.

Yingluck has said authorities will “absolutely not use violence” to disperse the demonstrators. But the situation is delicate after Thai police issued an arrest warrant against protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban.

On Thursday, protesters pulled down electricity wires to the National Police Headquarters.

And while these protests have been peaceful, they evoke memories of the 2010 clashes in Bangkok between security forces and Thaksin supporters who demanded his return. Some 90 people, many of them civilians, were killed.

CNN’s Tom Watkins contributed to this report