Gunman opens fire at Thai protesters

2013-12-28 08:26
Anti-government protesters wave Thai national flags next to barbed wire during demonstration near parliament in Bangkok. (File, AFP)

Anti-government protesters wave Thai national flags next to barbed wire during demonstration near parliament in Bangkok. (File, AFP)

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Bangkok - An unidentified gunman opened fire at opposition protesters in Bangkok on Saturday, killing one person and wounding several others in a pre-dawn attack that fanned tensions in the politically divided kingdom.

The shooting follows weeks of mass anti-government protests, seeking to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra that have triggered bloody clashes between police and demonstrators.

A protester died after he was shot in the torso and three others were hospitalised with gunshot wounds, a spokesperson for the city's Erawan emergency centre said.

Police confirmed the shooting but said its forensic team was unable to access the scene of the incident, which happened where a group of protesters was camped overnight near Government House.

It was unclear who fired the shots but armed provocateurs have a history of trying to stir tensions in the politically polarised kingdom, with each side usually blaming the other.

Some local media reports said the shots were fired from a passing car by more than one gunman.

Military coup

Yingluck has called February elections in the hope of bringing an end to the demonstrations, which have drawn tens of thousands of people seeking to curb her billionaire family's political dominance.

But the protesters have vowed to block the vote, saying it will only return the Shinawatra clan to power.

A second round of registration for constituency candidates was due to begin around the country on Saturday, raising fears of further clashes.

Eight people, including a policeman, have been killed and about 400 wounded in several outbreaks of street violence.

The government has said it will ask the army to provide security for election candidates and voters.

A policeman and a civilian died of gunshots fired by unknown assailants while 153 people were injured after violence erupted on Thursday when demonstrators tried to force their way into an election registration venue.

The army chief insisted on Friday that the military would remain neutral and said it was up to the election authorities whether the vote could go ahead, but he did not rule out another coup.

"The door is neither closed nor open. In every situation, anything can happen", he said when asked about the possibility of a coup, without elaborating.

Read more on:    yingluck shinawatra  |  thaksin shinawatra  |  thailand

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