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One Thai protest leader shot dead, advance polling blocked

Sunday, 26 January 2014 - 4:31pm IST | Place: Bangkok | Agency: PTI

An anti-government protest leader was shot dead today as demonstrators created chaos in the Thai capital blocking several polling centres to bar people from casting their advance vote, raising doubts over the fate of the February 2 snap elections.

Sutin Taratin, the leader of anti-government 'People's Army to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime' was leading a mob to block an advance polling station at Wat Sri-iam Temple compound in Bang Na district when he was shot at the head.

Police have not yet identified the shooter. The shooting happened as Sutin and protesters were confronted by pro-government red-shirt supporters at the temple.

Nine others were injured and rushed to hospitals nearby, reports here said.

Advance polling was held today for those who cannot vote on February 2. However, most polling stations were blocked by the opposition-backed protesters who wants the polls scrapped, the caretaker Yingluck Shinawatra government to quit and an un-elected People's Council to be set up.

About 2.16 million of the total 49 million eligible voters have applied for advanced voting before the February 2 election, which was called Yingluck to try to defuse rising political tensions after weeks of mass anti-government protests.

Protesters descended on scores of polling stations in the Thai capital and several southern provinces, stopping ballot officials from entering and prompting election authorities to shut at least 45 venues.

"Forty-five polling stations had to be closed out of 50 in Bangkok," said deputy prime minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul.

Election Commission secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong earlier confirmed mass polling station closures after officials "could not go inside because of the protesters".

He said the advance voting in the north, the northeast and the central of the country started and continued without problems while those in Bangkok and the south were blocked.

These two areas are strongholds of the opposition Democrat Party which has been holding protest marches for over two months in the capital calling for Prime Minister to step down.

The protesters want to make way for an un-elected "People's Council" to carry reforms before any polls. They want Yingluck and her brother former premier Thaksin Shinawatra out of Thai politics. Thaksin was overthrown in a coup in 2006 and is in self-exile in Dubai.


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