Bangkok: A Thai anti-government protester was shot dead and four others injured in a gun attack near Government House at dawn on Saturday (December 28) where several hundreds have been camping out to protest against the Prime MInister Yingluck Shinawatra.
The attack came two days after a clash between police and anti-government protesters killed one from both sides, and wounded scores more.
A witness said a car passed the back of the stage where protesters were sleeping in tents on the street near Government House at around 3:30am (2030GMT Friday).
"I was sleeping and then I heard several gunshots. I was surprised, and then I grabbed the police shield for protection," said an unidentified 18-year-old protester from Chumporn province.
The latest violence comes as Thailand's powerful army chief on Friday (December 27) refused to rule out military intervention to defuse the escalating political crisis.
His comments represent a major setback for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra who is under attack from opponents determined to overthrow her and weaken the influence of her self-exiled brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
Yingluck called for a snap election on Feb 2, which her party is almost certain to win. Anti-government protesters have vowed to stop the poll and the Election Commission has also asked for a postponement after violent clashes on Thursday (December 26).
Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul asked the military to provide security for the election candidates and voters, but there has been no public response.
Political deadlock and violence have become all too familiar in Thailand, where the military have staged or attempted to stage 18 coups in 81 years of democracy.
Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy is divided broadly between those who love former Prime Minister Thaksin, such as the rural power in the populous north and northeast, and those who loathe him, a group that includes Bangkok's conservative elite and middle class.