A Thai court on Wednesday ordered the government not to use force against peaceful protesters, after clashes between demonstrators and police left five dead and dozens wounded on both sides.
The ruling by the Civil Court could complicate Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s handling of more than three months of mass opposition protests, although her government had already pledged to avoid using violence against the demonstrators.
The court also rejected a demand by the opposition to revoke a 60-day state of emergency imposed in Bangkok and surrounding areas to deal with the protests.
Watch: Bangkok erupts in fatal clashes between police, protesters
But, in a complex ruling, it ordered the government not to enforce regulations issued under the state of emergency decree, such as a ban on the use of certain roads by protesters, in a new legal setback to Yingluck.
The demonstrators have staged more than three months of mass street rallies demanding Yingluck’s resignation, occupying major state buildings and preventing civil servants from going to work.
Police launched another operation to reclaim besieged government buildings and clear rally sites in the capital on Tuesday, tearing through razor wire and sandbag barricades.
They met with fierce resistance from protesters and were eventually forced to retreat amid volleys of gunfire.
The protesters have accused the security forces of being responsible for the deaths but the authorities insist they only used rubber bullets. They blamed the killings on armed instigators.
One policeman and four civilians died from gunfire and grenade blasts while more than 60 other people were wounded in Tuesday’s clashes.
Thailand has been periodically rocked by mass demonstrations staged by rival protest groups since a military coup in 2006 that ousted then-premier Thaksin Shinawatra – Yingluck’s brother.
In total 16 people have died and hundreds have been injured in political violence linked to the latest round of rallies.