BANGKOK — A rogue army general working with anti-government protesters was shot in the head Thursday while talking to reporters in downtown Bangkok, 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 will blockade 10,000 Red Shirt demonstrators who have paralyzed the center of the capital for two months.
The developments further eroded chances of re-establishing peace in this deeply divided Southeast Asian nation where the mostly rural, poor protesters are seeking to topple the government and hold new elections that they hope will give them a greater share of power.
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 following the shooting of 59-year-old 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 Associated Press cameraman Raul Gallego.
Killed in the shooting was Chartchai Bualao, 25, according to the government's medical emergency center. Soldiers resumed firing after an ambulance took his body away. At least seven other people were injured.
The emergency center said Khattiya was shot in the head and admitted to a hospital's intensive care unit.