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Thai protest leader shot dead

Posted on Jan 26 2014 | IANS

Bangkok, Jan 26 : Thai anti-government protest leader Suthin Tharathin was shot dead and three others injured in an attack at a polling station Sunday in Bang Na district of Bangkok.

Suthin was a leader of the opposition party People's Democratic Force to Overthrow Thaksinism. He led a group of protestors under the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) to a polling station in the morning after learning that booths were still open to enable advance voting ahead of next week's general elections, the Bangkok Post reported.

Earlier, protestors blocked many polling stations and disrupted the advance voting.

The protestors want Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down and the political system to be reformed before elections are held. Since November 2013, they have been staging street demonstrations and occupying government offices.

Advance voting for migrant workers and students who were unable to return home for voting by Feb 2 was cancelled in 39 of the 50 district offices in Bangkok, where the booths were blocked by PDRC protestors, city clerk Ninnat Chalitanont said.

Suthin went to negotiate with the director of the polling centre, who finally agreed to close down operations.

After the protestors left the polling centre, they saw more than 50 Red-Shirt supporters waiting for them. Gunshots were fired from among the Red-Shirt supporters and the sound of a bomb was also heard.

Suthin was later found shot dead and three others were injured. They were taken to a nearby hospital, where Suthin was pronounced dead.

The Red-Shirts are formally known as the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship. The focus of many Red-Shirts' campaigning zeal is former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, brother of Yingluck, ousted by the military in a September 2006 coup.

Its members are mainly rural workers from outside Bangkok.

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