BANGKOK (Reuters) - Police in Thailand’s Bangkok fired rubber bullets to disperse protesters who had gathered near the venue of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group meeting on Friday.
According to police official Ashyan Kraithong, around 350 protesters clashed with the police about 10km (6 miles) from the meeting venue.
Police said that ten protesters were arrested and five police officials injured.
“The protesters broke the law, physically assaulted police officers,” Mr Ashyan said, adding.
Demonstrators had gathered to protest against the policies of the prime minister who seized power through a military coup in 2014.
Videos on social media showed the people, who were there to demonstrate against the APEC meeting and Thailand prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, overturning vehicles.
Police in riot gear could also be seen approaching the protesters.
According to activist Patsaravalee ‘Mind’ Tanakitvibulpon, who was at the demonstration, the police had “overreacted”.
“The police have overreacted. They are using rubber bullets on us and tried to stop us many times.”
The prime minister had asked protesters to stand down during the APEC summit which included leaders from U.S., Australia, Japan, Canada, South Korea and other nations.
“Don’t ruin our beautiful country; you must empathize with the security forces,” he told reporters this week after returning from a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia.
The prime minister has faced sustained protests asking him to step down in recent years.
At Friday’s protest, a statement by activist association Ratsadon read: “This warm but hypocritical welcome is merely a means for you … to certify the legitimacy of an ugly, tyrannical government.”
Demonstrators also urged delegates at the APEC summit to reject a proposal by the Thai government called the Bio-Circular Green Economy Model, that aims to drive green development but, according to critics favours big business over poor farmers.
“Prayuth is using the APEC summit to legitimize these oppressive, exploitative schemes making enemies with farmers, labourers and the public,” Ms Thanakijvibulphol was quoted as saying.