BANGKOK: Thai police on Friday fired tear gas and water cannon at protesters mounting a "final fight" to topple the embattled government, two days after the prime minister was stripped of office.
Thousands of protesters left their main encampment in a park in the city´s commercial district as their firebrand leader Suthep Thaugsuban issued a rallying cry for them to establish a parallel government.
Fanning out into several groups they also surrounded a number of free-to-air television stations, saying they had interrupted broadcasts by authorities, as fears simmered of street clashes between rival political groups.
Police briefly used water cannon to hold off a hardcore group of anti-government protesters led by a Buddhist monk, who were attempting to enter a fortified police club.
"At first police fired water cannon, but protesters tried to get into the police club so they fired one can of tear gas," Paradorn Pattanatabut, a security adviser to the government told.
The city´s Erawan Emergency Centre said five people were injured at the police club, without giving details.
The protesters´ action adds risk to a highly combustible situation with rival pro-government "Red Shirts" due to mass in the city suburbs on Saturday, as Thailand´s political crisis lurches into a dangerous new phase.
At least 25 people have been killed and hundreds more left wounded in gun and grenade attacks linked to six months of anti-government protests.
Both sides have hardcore armed supporters and Thailand´s recent history has been scarred by bouts of political violence.