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Thai protesters defiant amid lockdown

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Anti-government protesters are camped in Bangkok

Anti-government protesters are camped in Bangkok

Anti-government protesters are camped in Bangkok

Protesters in the Thai capital have reinforced their encampment as government efforts to blockade them overnight led to sporadic violence that killed one man and saw a high-profile Red Shirt military leader shot in the head.

The protesters, seeking a change of government, remained defiant of attempts to force them to end their two-month protest that has seen them turn an upmarket part of central Bangkok into a heavily-barricaded stronghold.

On Thursday authorities began to cut power, public transport and some mobile phone services in the area, but music and speeches carried on from the Red Shirt stage and were relayed by sympathetic radio stations. In the morning some protesters were out early to extend their defences.

With the army expected to add more pressure on the demonstrators, and perhaps try to clear them, the Red Shirts suddenly found themselves without a key ally, a rogue general who served as their tactician for street confrontations.

Maj Gen Khattiya Sawasdiphol, better known by the nickname Seh Daeng, was shot in the head while talking to reporters just inside the Red Shirts' perimeter yesterday, about an hour after the government's lockdown was launched.

He was taken to a hospital in a coma and is in a critical condition. The attacker is not known.

Several small street battles later saw one man killed and 11 other people wounded. Protesters stopped police trucks and forced them to turn back. They hurled rocks at soldiers, who responded by firing live ammunition, according to an Associated Press cameraman.

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Gunfire - most if not all from soldiers - and several small explosions were heard well into the night.

The skirmishes took place along the southern end of the zone held by the Red Shirts, while their main rally site at the north end was mostly undisturbed. About 10,000 protesters were believed by the government to be in the area.


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