Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) — Violence flared overnight in Bangkok amid anti-government demonstrations intended to drive Thailand’s Prime Minister out of office.
Tens of thousands of protesters have disrupted traffic at major intersections and marched on government offices in Thailand’s large and hectic capital city this week.
The protests, dubbed “Bangkok shutdown,” had begun Monday without serious incident. But on Tuesday night, two people were shot and wounded, an explosive device was thrown at an opposition leader’s house, buses were set alight and police officers were attacked, according to authorities.
The protesters say they want Thailand’s political system overhauled instead of new elections scheduled for next month. They’re demanding that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government be replaced with an unelected “people’s council.”
Their numbers dropped from a peak of as many as 170,000 on Monday evening to about 60,000 on Tuesday evening, said Lt. Gen. Paradon Pattanathabut, Thailand’s security chief. He said roughly 10,000 demonstrators had stayed out on the streets overnight as others returned to their homes in the Bangkok area.
Protest leaders disagree with the government’s estimates of their numbers. They say they had more than one million people on the streets on Tuesday night.
Since Monday, groups of demonstrators have occupied seven main intersections in Bangkok and marched on several government buildings, including the labor, commerce and foreign ministries.
The protests have caused some disruption in central Bangkok, but large areas of the sprawling capital city so far remain unaffected. Authorities have deployed about 20,000 security personnel to keep watch throughout the city.
The rallies are orchestrated by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protest group, led by Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister for the opposition Democrat Party.
The government has offered talks with protesters and other concerned parties to discuss a way out of the impasse and the possibility of postponing the election. But Suthep’s group has rejected the offer.