One dead as gunman opens fire at Thai protesters

One dead as gunman opens fire at Thai protesters

BANGKOK - A Thai anti-government protester was killed and several others wounded after an unknown gunman opened fire on Saturday at a rally site near the government headquarters in Bangkok, emergency services said.

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

"The dead man is in his 30s. He was shot in the torso," a spokesman 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 divided kingdom, with each side usually blaming the other.

Yingluck has called February elections in the hope of bringing an end to the demonstrations 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.

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.

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