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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Renegade Thai general takes bullet to head

A renegade Thai army general was shot in the head while speaking to reporters in Bangkok Thursday, hours after the government said it was willing to shoot armed "terrorists' involved in the ongoing Red Shirt protests.
Maj. Gen. Khattiya Sawasdiphol was rushed to hospital after being shot outside the Silom subway station near the edge of a three-square-kilometre protest zone that Red Shirt supporters have been occupying.
An aide who answered the 59-year-old Khattiya's phone said his injuries were "severe."

The incident was confirmed by the government's emergency medical centre, which said Khattiya was in intensive care after being shot.
His aide said Khattiya was shot by a sniper, a claim that could not immediately be verified.

Khattiya was accused of leading a paramilitary force that is linked to the anti-government protesters who have pushed for the ouster of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. He was officially suspended from the army in January and had an arrest warrant issued against him last month.
Shortly before he was shot on Thursday, Khattiya predicted the Thai government would soon enter the protest zone.

"It's either dusk or dawn when the troops will go in," he told The Associated Press about 90 minutes before he was shot.
Later Thursday night, Associated Press cameraman Raul Gallego saw hundreds of protesters throw rocks and firecrackers at soldiers who returned fire.

During that clash, soldiers shot a second person in the head, said Gallego.
The Thai government alleges that Khattiya has helmed the violence that anti-government groups have been responsible for in recent weeks.

Khattiya helped build razor-wire barricades in downtown Bangkok and was suspended from his military duties.

He had personally vowed to retaliate against any crackdown from the Thai government.

Yesterday, the Thai government said it would cut off the so-called Red Shirt protesters from food, water and other supplies in an effort to end their occupation of high-end neighbourhood in downtown Bangkok that is home to banks, malls and hotels.

On Thursday the government said it would send in armed personnel carriers and snipers to surround the Red Shirts in a bid to end the protests that began two months ago.

Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the agency tasked with ending the protests "has shifted its strategy toward complete blockade and interception."

The protesters have signalled that they do not intend to give in.
"We will never surrender. Please have faith in the fight," Jatuporn Prompan, a protest leader said Thursday.
"As soon as troops move in, the Red Shirts in the provinces and Bangkok will rise together." News Staff


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