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Soldiers and armoured vehicles have broken through the barricades of tyres and bamboo to force thousands of anti-government protesters from their fortified camp in central Bangkok.
Troops fired tear gas and automatic rifles at the red-shirted protesters, as an armoured vehicle broke through a barricaded intersection, but stopped before closing in on an area where an estimated 3,000 demonstrators were rallying.
Two bodies were found on Ratchadamri Road, which leads to the main protest site. They appeared to have been shot.
Witnesses said the "red shirts" fired back, with hospitals reporting at least eight people wounded. Some troops were seen firing from an overpass as army officials blocked journalists from entering the area.
Protesters ignited walls of tyres as the troops arrived, causing thick black smoke to billow high over skyscrapers and camouflaging thousands of demonstrators who have occupied the heart of Bangkok's commercial district for more than six weeks.
Troops earlier used bullhorns and loudspeakers to urge protesters and civilians to leave, as military helicopters circled overhead.
The military offensive came a day after the collapse of a proposal for talks aimed at ending five days of chaotic street fighting that descended into urban warfare, which have killed 39 people and wounded more than 300.