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About 17,000 police officers were deployed to subdue at least 9,000 people who rallied in the streets of Bangkok on Saturday to call for the overthrow of the Thai government. Protesters believe the current prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is doing the bidding of her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted from the post in 2006.

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The situation in Bangkok between "red shirt" protesters and the Thai government was tense and precarious on Monday, as leaders from both sides of the conflict made tentative attempts to communicate while thousands of demonstrators held their ground in their encampment.

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There are the red shirts, and there are also the black shirts -- a group of Thai dissidents, led by rebel Gen. Khattiya Sawatdiphol until he was shot in the head Thursday, apparently by a sniper, as he was being interviewed by New York Times reporter Thomas Fuller in Bangkok. His injury was described as "severe."

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The two-month-long mass protest that has paralyzed the Thai capital is nearing resolution, as the besieged prime minister looks ready to accept new elections. But some observers wonder, with rival mobs ready to march in perpetuity, if Thai politics will ever really stabilize.

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Anyone who has ever backpacked through the land of smiles knows that the Thai people love their king (or at least put his picture everywhere). The world's longest-reigning monarch doesn't normally involve himself in the country's messy political upheavals, but King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 82, is finally speaking out after seven weeks of sometimes lethal protests.

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Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has responded with a resounding "no" to a conditional offer from anti-government red-shirt protesters to end a bloody standoff in return for early elections. The opposition's offer represented a shift from earlier demands that parliament be dissolved immediately.

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