Thailand's political crisis has been boiling for several years, but in recent weeks the country's protests have become increasingly violent, with clashes between the Red Shirt opposition movement, pro-government activists and the Thai military.
The turmoil dates back to 2006, when the standing government was overthrown by a military junta following nearly a year of political unrest. Since, Thailand has been in a state of flux, transitioning from martial law into a constitutional government, but has recently been under extreme pressure by anti-government protesters seeking the dissolution of parliament and a round of new elections.
Although protests began in a peaceful way, violence has escalated after clashes between protesters and government troops shut down the commercial centers in Bangkok amid gunfire, leaving dozens dead and thousands wounded.
Click ahead for some of the most dramatic imagery coming out of the political crisis in Thailand.
By Paul ToscanoPosted 19 May 2010
A Thai soldier shows a firecracker bomb left behind by Red Shirt anti-government protestors inside their camp in downtown Bangkok. The top Thai protest leader urged supporters of the anti-government 'Red Shirt' movement to refrain from violence after riots in the capital, saying 'democracy cannot be built on revenge.'
A firefighter works to control the fire that burned all night at CentralWorld shopping mall, attacked by redshirt protesters venting their anger against the government May 20, 2010 in Bangkok, Thailand.
The operation on May 19 finally evicted the protesters after a six week takeover of Bangkok's major shopping district. So far over the past several weeks 44 people have been killed and 400 injured during the endless political turmoil that has plagued the capitol city. A curfew remains in effect for three more days in Bangkok to try and stop any more violence.
Anti-government protesters from the Red Shirt opposition gather inside Thai Police Headquarters as they surrender a day after the army assault on their fortified protest site on May 20, 2010 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Thai authorities have extended curfews in the capital city and other provinces for three further nights. At least 44 people have been killed in clashes in which protesters clashed with military forces over a period of six consecutive days, resulting in the end of the blockade and the surrender of Red-shirt leaders.
An anti-government red shirt protester walks past burning tires on May 18. At this point, protesters had been clashing with military forces for five consecutive days in Bangkok after the government launched an operation to disperse anti-government protesters who have closed parts of the city for more than two months.
A Thai red shirt guard demonstrates how to use a shield inside the fortified camp in the central financial district of downtown Bangkok. A Thai protest leader was seriously wounded as gunshots and an explosion rang out at a vast protest camp in Bangkok after the army threatened to seal off the site, a hospital source said.
The violence came after Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva shelved a plan for November elections and hopes faded for an imminent resolution to a crippling two-month crisis.
A Thai 'Red Shirt' anti-government protester screams and bursts into tears as their leaders announce to the crowd their surrender on the stage inside the protesters' camp in downtown Bangkok. Thai protest leaders surrendered and told thousands of 'Red Shirt' supporters to end their weeks-long rally after an army assault on their fortified encampment.
Thai soldiers take positions near the Red Shirt protestors' camp in Bangkok. Thai security forces backed by armoured vehicles advanced on the camp in Bangkok in what a senator said would be a 'decisive' crackdown.
A Thai National Flag is seen inside the devastated Red Shirt camp as a fire burns at the Central World Shopping Mall.
A Buddhist monk is detained by Thai police inside the Red Shirt anti-government protesters' camp in Bangkok on May 19, 2010.
Thai anti-government protesters climb over a gate at the Bangkok Police General Hospital as Thai military forces move into their encampment.
Anti-government Red Shirt protester flies the Thai flag as a fellow protester encourages others to advance up a street.
A state of emergency is in effect that covers 17 provinces of the country. The Thai army declared certain protest areas where clashes are taking place as "Live Fire Zones."
A Thai soldier scans the sky as troops move into the main rally site of anti-government protesters.
A group of hardline Thai Red Shirt anti-government protesters take cover behind a wall as they fight security forces after the leaders of the movement announced their surrender in downtown Bangkok.
Red Shirt anti-government protesters surrender to the military inside their camp in Bangkok, Thailand. At least five people are reported to have died as government forces tried to overrun barricades raised in and around the city center by protestors.
In this instance, Red Shirt leaders surrendered, ending their blockade in the aftermath of a sixth day of violence, leaving the army in control along with the imposition of a nighttime curfew.
Supporters of pro-Red Shirt Major General Khattiya Sawasdipol pour water on a picture of him during his funeral on May 17 in Bangkok. Major General Khattiya Sawasdipol, also known as Seh Daeng, was shot in the head on May 13 during an interview with a New York Times reporter.
Protesters and military clashed once again in central Bangkok after the government launched an operation following the anti-government protesters' refusal to obey orders to leave their fortified camp in the Thai capital.
A general view of the Bangkok Skyline shows smoke rising into the air following a crackdown by Thai security forces on the Red shirt protesters' camp. At least five people are reported to have died as government forces sought to overrun barricades raised in and around the city center by protestors.
Two Buddhist monks are detained by Thai soldiers inside the Red Shirt anti-government protesters' camp in Bangkok.
An anti-government Red Shirt protester prepares to throw a molotov cocktail on May 18, 2010 in Bangkok.
Despite calls from the United Nations for both sides to begin talks, anti-government protesters in Bangkok have defied orders to leave their fortified camp, there have been widespread injuries and numerous deaths.
A protester takes cover behind a wall after several consecutive days of violence between protestors and the Thai military.
Red Shirt protester stands guard holding a sharpened bamboo stick at the anti- government camp early morning as the tense standoff continues on April 23 in Bangkok. A series of coordinated grenade attacks left 3 dead and several injured on that day.