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Thai police push out street protesters, briefly

A man confronted police during an operation to reclaim government offices.

Wason Wanichakorn/Associated Press

A man confronted police during an operation to reclaim government offices.

BANGKOK — Riot police managed to clear antigovernment protesters from a major boulevard in the Thai capital in a small but brief victory Friday as authorities try to reclaim areas that have been closed during a three-month push to unseat Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Hundreds of helmeted police with riot shields met no resistance as they dismantled a sprawling protest camp in Bangkok’s historic quarter near the prime minister’s office compound, known as Government House.

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The office has been closed since December by protesters camped nearby.

Faced with the prospect of clashing with militant protesters coming from other sites to reclaim the area, police later withdrew, allowing demonstrators to occupy the street again. By evening, tents were re-erected in the area.

Police also retreated from another protest venue after hundreds of demonstrators refused to leave.

But the police action was the first major pushback against the demonstrators and was accomplished without violence, a key to holding the high moral ground.

In past clashes with police, protesters highlighted injuries in their ranks for propaganda purposes, even though both sides have used force.

The operation, which came on a national holiday when offices were closed, marked the first time in three months that police have successfully entered and cleared a protest area. But the protesters continue to occupy several areas in central Bangkok.

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