Thai soldiers sprayed automatic weapons fire into the air and threw tear gas to clear protesters blocking roads in the capital in the pre-dawn darkness on Monday. Thailand's government and hospital authorities said two men were killed in protests here Monday, saying they were shot in clashes between demonstrators and local residents.
More than 70 are reportedly injured in the clashes.
Despite a state of emergency that bans gatherings of more than five people, anti-government protesters were stationed at half a dozen points in Bangkok, including the prime minister's office, police said. Demonstrators used commandeered public buses to block several key intersections, and they set tires on fire.
Monday's clashes marked a major escalation in the ongoing protests that have roiled this southeast Asian nation. The skirmish came a day after the country's ousted prime minister called for a revolution.
Protesters controlled many streets in the capital where major department stores, malls and jewelry shops in Chinatown shut their doors.
France, Britain, Australia, the United States, South Korea and the Philippines were among countries that issued travel advisories Monday, urging citizens to avoid trips to Thailand and for those already in Bangkok to stay in their hotels and away from protests. The US Embassy issued a warden message urging Americans “to avoid the areas of demonstrations and to exercise caution anywhere in Bangkok.”
Army spokesman Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the protesters also used tear gas as well as “weapons” to open fire on the soldiers. In another incident, the official Thai News Agency said three grenades, believed to be fired from an M-79 grenade launcher, landed inside the compound of the Constitutional Court.