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Thai opposition rally leaves one dead, as election tensions rise

A gunman has killed an anti-government activist in Bangkok, with at least two others wounded during the attack on a rally. Protesters elsewhere blocked potential election candidates from entering registration centers.

An anti-government protester was killed in a pre-dawn attack on Saturday when an unidentified gunman fired on a demonstration in the capital, Bangkok.

Petphing Kamjonkitkam, director of the Erawan Emergency Center in Bangkok, told Reuters news agency a man in his 30s had been shot dead.

At least two other people demonstrating against the country's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra sustained gunshot wounds during the attack, he added.

Protesters have been rallying for weeks in a bid to oust Yingluck, whom they see as a mouthpiece for her brother, Thaksin Shinawata, the country's former premier, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup.

Election registration disruption

In the latest round of rallies, protesters have attempted to disrupt a national election on February 2 by blocking candidates from registering.

The Electoral Commission's Secretary-General, Puchong Nutrawong, told reporters the commission was forced to temporarily close registration centers in six provinces in the south of the country because they had been blocked by protesters. Candidates, he added, were not able to access the sites.

Local media reported that the water and electricity supply had been tampered with at some venues.

Registration was set to continue later on Saturday.

The country's Electoral Commission has requested the vote be postponed following the violence “until mutual consent from all sides was achieved.”

The violence follows comments on Friday by the country's powerful army chief, General Prayuth Chan-Ocha, who refused to rule out a military coup to bring an end to the rivalry between Thailand's middle-class royalists and the mainly poor, rural supporters of Yingluck and her brother, Thaksin.

“The door was neither open nor closed,” the chief said when asked if a coup was possible.


jlw/tj (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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