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Terrorism & Security

Soldier killed as shots fired at Thailand's red shirt protesters

Troops fired rubber bullets and possibly live ammunition into a crowd of Thailand's red shirt protesters Wednesday. The latest round of violence injured at least 18.

By Correspondent / April 28, 2010

Thai soldiers guard the streets of a busy business district on Wednesday, in Bangkok, Thailand. Thai security forces and antigovernment red shirt protesters faced off, with troops firing in the air as they sought to keep the protesters from expanding their demonstrations.

Wong Maye-E/AP

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A soldier was shot dead on Wednesday as Thailand's red shirt protesters tried to expand their demonstrations into the suburbs around Bangkok. At least 18 other people may have been injured in clashes between soldiers and protesters.

While there has been continual concern about the escalation of violence since protests began seven weeks ago, the scale of this most recent incident along with mounting impatience among security forces has raised concerns that violence could reach new levels.

The antigovernment red shirt protesters have created a fortified area in the middle of the capital as they demand the dissolution of Parliament. Tensions rose substantially Wednesday when nearly 2,000 demonstrators left their makeshift compound intent on recruiting supporters outside the city, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The group loaded into trucks and other vehicles and vowed they would break through any military checkpoints that refused to let them pass. Thai troops reportedly fired rubber bullets at protesters who refused to stop, and the situation grew more violent when some antigovernment activists charged soldiers with homemade weapons.

It remains unclear if police only fired rubber bullets or if live ammunition was used as well, reports The Canadian Press. It was also difficult for officials to determine how many people were injured in the clashes. Although Thai forces have been ordered to use rubber bullets against the Red Shirts, in extreme situations they are permitted to use live ammunition in self-defense.

"At this point, there is too much chaos for anybody to constantly report what kind bullets they are using. ... We brought force out to stop them. At this point, society finds it unacceptable to have protesters travelling in a motorcade like this," [said Army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd]. "We try our best to prevent losses."

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