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Thai election body urges delay in polls amid clash

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 26, 2013 at 7:17 a.m.

BANGKOK — Thailand's election commission Thursday called for forthcoming polls to be delayed as street battles between security forces and protesters seeking to disrupt the ballot killed a police officer and injured nearly 100 people, dealing fresh blows to the beleaguered government.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra wants the Feb. 2 elections to take place as scheduled, believing she would win handily and renew her mandate. The street violence adds to pressure on her to take a tougher line against the protesters, risking more chaos and possible intervention by the army.

The hours-long unrest took place outside a Bangkok sports stadium where election candidates were gathering to draw lots for their positions on ballots. Protesters threw rocks as they tried to break into the building to halt the process, while police fired tear gas and rubber bullets.

Police said protesters fired live bullets, one of which killed the officer.

Four election commissioners left the stadium by helicopter to escape the violence, some of the sharpest since a long-running dispute between Thailand's bitterly divided political factions flared anew two months ago, pitching the Southeast Asian country into fresh turmoil.

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