From ANDREW DRUMMOND, Bangkok, May 14 2010
Pictures: Andrew Chant
Troops opened fire on anti-government demonstrators in Bangkok again today causing one fatality and injuring 23 as they tried to close gaps on a blockade to force the protesters into surrender.
Army troops initially fired tear gas on protesters in Bangkok but then followed up with rubber bullets before possibly a sniper used live ammunition. One man was reported killed. Three foreign journalists are reported to have been injured, one Thai photographer is confirmed injured.
Protesters have also set off fires with tyres in the centre of the city and also set fire to a bus, and there are reports of them now preparing ‘Molotov’ cocktails.
Meanwhile a computer worker told of his horror today after an anti-government supporter in front of him was shot through his head after pointing his ‘laser’ pen at an army during last night’s troubles in Bangkok
James West, 33, said: ‘i was following a crowd of about forty protesters, who were running towards the army and then stopped and started shouting insults. The man two yards in front of me took out a laser pointer and started beaming it at the soldiers lighting one up. I thought what a crazy thing to do, then he was hit. I felt debris, bits of him hitting me too.
‘He went down straight away. There was a bullet exit wound at the back of his head,’ said West, an amateur photographer and software development specialist based in Bangkok, Bangkok but from Seattle, Washington State.
‘These laser pens are popular in Bangkok and can be bought at all the local markets including Patpong. Many tourists buy them but anybody would be crazy to point them at a soldier. The situation is very tense’
The male protester was the only fatality in last night’s troubles, but early today rogue Major General Khittaya Sawasdipol, also known as Seh Deang, or Red Commander, was on the critical list and under armed guard at the Vajiralongkorn Hospital, Bangkok, where, if he survives, he is expected to be arraigned on terrorism charges.
British photographer Andrew Chant , from Yeovil, said: ‘I saw several of the red-shirts using lasers presumably to intimidate the army. It’s not a very clever thing to do. I am surprised at the accuracy of the shot which took this man down.
He was taken out by a sniper late last night while giving an interview to a New York Times reporter, after being branded a terrorist by Eton and Oxford educated Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva. The government has denied any involvement.
Major General Khittaya, a personal friend of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, had become disavowed with the army after being put in charge of aerobics training and was responsible for setting up the defences for the red shirted anti-government supporters in Bangkok.
In interviews he has compared himself to ‘Braveheart’ played by Mel Gibson, and has said he would fight on against the government even if the red-shirts left.