Dec. 28 - A Thai protester is killed as the army chief refuses to rule out intervention to defuse political crisis. Masako Iijima reports.
A Thai anti-government protester is shot dead and four others injured in an attack on their camp. The unknown assailant opened fire on the sleeping protesters -- hundreds are camping out around Government House in a bid to force the prime minister from power and weaken the influence of her brother. (SOUNDBITE) (Thai) UNIDENTIFIED 18-YEAR-OLD PROTESTER FROM CHUMPORN PROVINCE SAYING: "I was sleeping and then I heard several gunshots. I was surprised, then I grabbed the police shield for protection." The fatal shooting comes two days after a violent clash between police and protesters seeking to stop snap elections left two dead. The Election Commission has also asked the February 2 polls to be postponed. But the government is pushing ahead and the Deputy Prime Minister has asked the military to protect election candidates and voters. The military has not publicly responded to the request. But Thailand's powerful army chief refused to rule out military intervention to defuse the escalating political crisis. (SOUNDBITE)(Thai) THAI ARMY CHIEF, GENERAL PRAYUTH CHAN-OCAH SAYING: "The door (to a coup) is neither open nor closed. Anything can happen, it all depends on the situation," His comments are a major setback for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra whose party is almost certain to win in the upcoming election. Any delay to the polls could leave her embattled government and party exposed to an escalation of street protests and legal challenges that could leave the country in limbo.