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Thai renegade 'Red' general dead: emergency services
  • | AFP | May 17, 2010 11:29 AM

A renegade Thai general allied with "Red Shirt" anti-government protesters died in hospital on Monday after being shot in the head last week, emergency services said.

Khattiya Sawasdipol cries and holds up a cap of her father, renegade Thai major-general Khattiya Sawasdipol, at a hospital in Bangkok May 17, 2010.
REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

"I learned that he died this morning," an official with Bangkok's emergency medical centre said.

Major-General Khattiya Sawasdipol, 58, known as Seh Daeng, was shot on Thursday night during an interview with a foreign reporter near the area where thousands of anti-government protesters have been encamped for weeks.

The outspoken general had been in intensive care since the shooting, which coincided with the start of a government effort to seal off the Red Shirts' protest site by cutting power and blocking roads.

As part of the operation, the army had warned it would deploy snipers but denied shooting the general.

In the three days since his shooting, 34 civilians and one member of the military have died in clashes that erupted between Red Shirts and troops on the fringes of the demonstrators' camp.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva had accused Seh Daeng -- who was suspended from duty in January -- of trying to prevent an end to the demonstrations.

But the high-profile Reds supporter had been able to wander freely in and out of the demonstrators' fortified encampment, and to meet journalists despite being wanted by the police.

Authorities accused Seh Daeng of involvement in a series of unexplained attacks in Bangkok, but he said he was not involved, and spent his time inspecting the barricades of fuel-soaked tyres, bamboo poles and razor wire that he had erected to protect the Red zone.

Core Red leaders had publicly distanced themselves from Seh Daeng, and he treated the movement's leaders with contempt.

Key Reds' leader Jatuporn Prompan announced Seh Daeng's death on stage at the demonstration site, where the thousands of protesters stood in homage.

"Although he was a general of the army he fought for democracy with us," Jatuporn told protesters.

It remains unclear who shot the general.

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