By Mark Memmott
"Gunfire has been heard in the Thai capital Bangkok hours after a deadline for thousands of protesters to clear a camp expired," the BBC reports.
The Associated Press reports that "an aide says the military strategist of Thailand's anti-government Red Shirt protesters has been shot in the head. ... Several Thai media outlets also reported that Khattiya (Sawasdiphol) was shot and taken to a hospital. Khattiya is a renegade army major general whom the government has labeled a "terrorist" and a mastermind behind violence from anti-government protesters during the two-month standoff in the Thai capital."
As NPR's Michael Sullivan has previously reported, "the protesters say the current government came to power illegitimately backed by that elite and the military."
Update at 11:15 a.m. ET. There are now more details from The New York Times reporter who was interviewing Sawasdiphol when he was shot. Thomas Fuller writes that:
"This reporter, who was facing the general and about two feet away, heard a loud bang not unlike a firecracker. The general fell to the ground, with his eyes wide open, and protesters rushed his apparently lifeless body to the hospital. ... When the bullet struck him Gen. Khattiya was answering a question about whether the Thai military would be able to penetrate the protest area, which is ringed by a series of barricades constructed out of old tires and bamboo stakes.
"Gen. Khattiya's last words before being shot were, 'The military cannot get in here.' Those words were spoken in Thai; he sometimes also spoke in broken English"
Update at 10:50 a.m. ET. The New York Times now has a story from correspondent Thomas Fuller that says Sawasdiphol was "struck in the head by a bullet during an interview with this reporter". That's all the Times says about the reporter's presence. Presumably, it will have more later.
Update at 9:10 a.m. ET. Reuters now writes that:
"A rogue soldier and de facto military chief of Thailand's red shirt protest movement was shot and wounded near Bangkok's business area on Thursday night, his close aide told Reuters. Khattiya Sawasdiphol, a suspended army specialist in charge of security at an encampment occupied by thousands of anti-government demonstrators, was admitted to an intensive care ward after being shot, said the aide, who picked up Khattiya's cellphone."
categories: Foreign News