BANGKOK - A rogue army general working with anti-government protesters was shot in the head yesterday while talking to reporters, triggering more clashes that left one demonstrator dead and worsening Thailand's political chaos.
Gunfire crackled well into in the night after the government declared it would blockade 10,000 Red Shirt demonstrators who have occupied and paralyzed the center of the capital for two months.
The developments further eroded chances of re-establishing peace in the deeply divided nation where the mostly rural, poor protesters are seeking to topple the government.
The Red Shirts have turned a 1-square-mile area in the posh Rajprasong neighborhood into a sprawling camp, with portable bathrooms, free food and a stage from which their leaders deliver daily anti-government diatribes.
The streets around it turned into a virtual war zone after the shooting of Maj. Gen. Khattiya Sawasdiphol. Protesters stopped police trucks and forced them to turn back; they hurled rocks at soldiers, who responded by firing live ammunition, said AP cameraman Raul Gallego.
Also killed in the shooting was Chartchai Bualao, 25, who was hit in the eye. Soldiers resumed firing after an ambulance took his body away. At least seven other people were injured.
Khattiya was shot while talking to a New York Times reporter near the Silom subway station surrounded by tall buildings, leading to suspicions of a sniper.