Thailand braced for a threatened shutdown of its capital on Monday by protesters who want to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and install an unelected government. Fears grew that the south-east Asian country could be heading for civil war.
Tourists have been fleeing with hundreds queuing for the night buses to take them out of the capital to safer locations, according to Sky News.
More than ten thousand anti-government protesters marched through downtown Bangkok as tents and stages were set up in at least seven residential and main business areas.
Protesters started blocking major intersections late on Sunday, aiming to create traffic chaos in a city where the roads are clogged at the best of times by the population of 12 million. .
Related: Thailand Shutdown: In Depth Analysis
The upheaval is the latest chapter in an eight-year conflict, pitting Bangkok's middle class and royalist establishment against the mostly poor, rural supporters of Yingluck and her self-exiled brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thaksin was ousted by the military in 2006 and sentenced to jail in absentia for abuse of power in 2008, but he still looms large over Thai politics and is believed to be the dominant force behind his sister's administration from his home in Dubai.
Eight people, including two police officers, have been killed and scores wounded in violence between protesters, police, and government supporters in recent weeks, although there has been no sustained fighting between rival groups.