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Thai pro-democracy protesters clash with police at Bangkok’s Grand Palace

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Pro-democracy protesters pull down a shipping container set up as a wall by authorities to block access to the nearby Grand Palace during an anti-government demonstration at Sanam Luang in Bangkok on Saturday. AFP

Thai pro-democracy protesters clash with police at Bangkok’s Grand Palace

Thai police used water cannon and rubber bullets outside Bangkok’s Grand Palace on March 20, after demonstrators broke through a barricade of shipping containers to demand reforms to the kingdom’s unassailable monarchy.

It was the latest night of unrest since Thailand’s pro-democracy movement kicked off in July, calling for an overhaul of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s administration and a rewrite of a military-scripted constitution.

But their most controversial demands have been for reforms to the monarchy, including the abolition of royal defamation laws.

A wall of cargo containers, two containers tall, had been erected in Sanam Luang, a historic field in front of the palace, to keep protesters away but, just an hour into the rally, they used ropes to yank some of the top-row boxes down, allowing a small opening.

“You’re breaking the law!” said the police over an announcer as protesters used ropes to pull the lower containers out of place.

Once protesters were able to get through, they threw Molotov cocktails at dozens of police who stood by with water cannon trucks about 100m away, using the jets to prevent protesters from coming closer.

“Release our friends!” protesters shouted, referring to prominent leaders who have been detained since earlier this year.

Police chased demonstrators away from the area, firing rubber bullets continuously directly at them, according to AFP reporters on the ground.

By 8:30 pm (1330 GMT), most protesters had dispersed, with only hard-core activists still at the scene.

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