A Thai protester has been killed and three others wounded after shots were fired at demonstrators whose efforts to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra have flared into violence over the past two days.
The overnight attack took place in the capital Bangkok, close to a protest camp in the city centre, according to a government-run medical centre.
It happened hours after the country’s powerful army chief said he did not want the military dragged into the conflict as some protesters would like, but also refused to rule out the possibility of a coup.
The protesters have been rallying for weeks in their attempt to topple the prime minister, who they see as a puppet of her brother Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister and billionaire tycoon. Demonstrators also vow to disrupt the upcoming elections in February.
A long-running dispute between Thailand’s bitterly divided political factions intensified anew in November, raising doubts over the democratic future of the country, which is a major United States ally, Southeast Asia’s second largest economy and a popular tourist destination.
Several hundred protesters are camped out in tents around the walls of Government House in Bangkok.
Witnesses said they were sleeping when gunfire suddenly rang out at about 3:30am on Saturday. Some also said that the shots could have come from a car as it drove past the protest site at the time of the incident.
Television footage showed bullet holes in a concrete wall and in a generator, as well as bloodstains inside one of the many flimsy tents set up by protesters.
Registration for the election was to continue on Saturday, although Thailand’s Election Commission recently requested that the poll be delayed until “mutual consent” from all sides was achieved.