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Thai troops engaged in violent clashes with anti-government protesters Friday in Bangkok, where fighting in recent days has killed eight people and wounded more than 100 others.
Security forces aiming to seal off the main commercial district in the Thai capital fired tear gas and live and rubber bullets at anti-government forces. Protesters set tires and a bus on fire and threw explosives at troops.
Loud explosions and gunfire could be heard from the business district throughout the day. Those injured since the fighting broke out Thursday include a Canadian journalist and two Thai journalists.
A government spokesman says Thai officials are committed to stabilizing the situation, and that it will be under control soon.
Clashes between the so-called Red Shirt protesters and security forces were triggered when a renegade general aligned with the Red Shirts was shot and seriously wounded Thursday as security forces began a crackdown on the protesters' encampment.
The protesters say the government is illegitimate and are demanding it step down and allow new elections. They have occupied Bangkok's central commercial district since mid-March, forcing hotels and businesses to shut down. More than 30 people have been killed since the protest began.
The wounded general, Khattiya Sawasdiphol, better known as Seh Daeng or Commander Red, led a militant wing of the Red Shirts that had assumed control of security for thousands of demonstrators. But many within the protest movement have distanced themselves from Khattiya, concerned that he has played a role in fomenting violence.
The mostly poor, rural and urban protesters are supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup. They claim Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's government was installed illegitimately after a court forced a pro-Thaksin government to dissolve.
Mr. Abhisit offered last week to dissolve parliament and hold new elections on November 14, more than a year ahead of schedule, in hopes of ending the two-month political crisis. The Red Shirts accepted the proposal in principle earlier this month, but later made new demands.
Mr. Thaksin has been living in exile to avoid a jail term on corruption charges.