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Thailand protests turn deadly, gunshots fired in Bangkok

Deadly gunshots have been fired as opponents and supporters of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra have clashed in Bangkok. Thai security officials have said military backup is being deployed to quell the violence.

Gunshots were fired at the scene of clashes between anti and pro-government supporters Saturday night killing at least one person. It is the first time violence has erupted since protests against the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra began last week.

It was not immediately clear who fired the shots in Bangkok's Ramkamhaeng area but National Police Deputy Spokesman Anucha Romyanant said the man killed was a 21-year-old student with two bullet wounds.

Scattered violence has erupted throughout the capital with a mob of opposition protesters attacking government supporters traveling to a rally at a Bangkok stadium in support for Yingluck.

Government supporters from the countryside have been bussed in for the event at the stadium, which is likely to further raise tensions.

With a Sunday deadline set by demonstrators for the ousting of the government, police called for military backup. In a televised address, national police spokesman Piya Utayo said 3,000 troops will be deployed to reinforce security in Bangkok.

"From tonight there will be soldiers out to take care of security," he said.

The opposition campaign centers around the political influence that protesters say is still wielded by Yingluck's brother, the billionaire exiled former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was overthrown by the military in 2006. Yingluck has been accused of acting as Thaksin's puppet and abusing her party's parliamentary majority to push through laws that help her brother.

Over the past week, the demonstrators have occupied government buildings, including the Finance Ministry, and camped out at several others, including a government office complex in what they describe as a civil disobedience campaign. On Thursday, Yingluck Shinawatra easily survived a no-confidence motion in parliament, and later used a televised address to plead with the protesters to end their campaign to avoid further damage to Thailand's economy.

On Friday, protest leader and former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban told a rally, "On Sunday, brothers and sisters, we will announce our victory and defeat of the Thaksin regime," adding, "We might have to break the law, but we will accept the consequences and punishment."

hc/se (Reuters, AFP, AP)