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Shots, blasts as protest rivals clash on Thai election eve

Violence erupted in Bangkok on Saturday, the eve of tense Thai elections, with explosions and heavy gunfire breaking out in clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters - reports AFP.

Voting is under way in Thailand's tense national election but anti-Government protesters have forced the closure of around 10% of polling stations - reports Sky News.

Election Commission secretary general Puchong Nutrawong said polls were open in many areas but protesters have prevented voting in 12 southern provinces and at least three Bangkok districts. The election was called by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in an unsuccessful attempt to deal with rising tensions in the nation. On Saturday seven people were injured when gun battles broke out at a busy Bangkok intersection between Government supporters and protesters.

The exchange of fire was the latest flare-up in the lengthy campaign by protesters to overthrow the Government, which they say is riddled with corruption. The protesters are demanding the Government be replaced by an unelected council that would rewrite political and electoral laws to combat problems of corruption. But the Prime Minister has refused to step down, arguing she is open to reform.

Since protests began late last year, at least 10 people have been killed and nearly 600 wounded. Police plan to deploy 100,000 officers nationwide, while the army is putting 5,000 soldiers into Bangkok to boost security. The election is unlikely to resolve the crisis as protesters managed to stop candidates from registering in some areas, meaning parliament will not have enough members to convene. This could leave Thailand in political limbo as Ms Yingluck will be unable to form a government or pass a budget.

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