Thai red-shirt supporter Gen Khattiya ‘shot’

Troops gather in Bangkok

The number of troops in Bangkok is said to have increased in recent days

A renegade Thai general who backs anti-government protesters has been shot, shortly after a deadline for troops to seal their Bangkok protest camp passed.

Khattiya Sawasdipol, better known as Seh Daeng (Commander Red), was shot in the head and seriously injured.

The incident happened near the Silom business area. An explosion coincided with a volley of gunfire, and there have been reports of more casualties.

Military chiefs had said they would seal the camp from 1800 (1100 GMT).

People were urged to leave the area and shops and businesses were advised to close before the deadline. Transport was suspended.

KHATTIYA SAWASDIP
Khattiya Sawasdipol tests a red-shirt's home-made shield in  Bangkok, 11 May
Describes himself as a key military adviser to the red-shirts
Suspended from duty in the Thai army where he has the rank of major-general
Dubbed Seh Daeng (English: Commander Red), enjoys a cult following among the opposition’s radical wing
Aged 59, has likened himself to the Mel Gibson character in the film Braveheart

Earlier, a BBC reporter saw trucks unloading heavily-armed soldiers several blocks from the encampment.

The BBC’s Rachel Harvey in Bangkok says a column of about 200 soldiers was seen moving towards the camp.

Street lights have been switched off in the camp, plunging parts of it into darkness, but protesters continue to defiantly blast out music, our correspondent says.

The man who was shot, Seh Daeng, is a suspended army officer who describes himself as the red-shirts’ military strategist.

He is part of the protesters’ more radical wing and had accused red-shirt leaders – many of whom distanced themselves from him – of not being hard-line enough.

The protesters – who have been occupying parts of Bangkok for more than two months – want Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve parliament and call fresh elections.

Mr Abhisit is under severe pressure to end the protests, which have paralysed Bangkok since 14 March.

He had offered polls on 14 November – but the two sides failed to agree a deal because of divisions over who should be held accountable for a deadly crackdown on protests last month.

On Wednesday, the government announced and then cancelled a plan to cut off water and power supplies to the protesters.

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