BANGKOK- A "red shirt" Thai government supporter was shot and killed early on Sunday, raising the death toll to two from political violence in Bangkok as protesters intensified a week-long bid to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Police called in military back-up to protect government buildings after fatal street clashes erupted between supporters and opponents of Yingluck and her billionaire brother, ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, near a sports stadium where about 70,000 government supporters had gathered.
The fighting is the latest in an intractable conflict that broadly pits Thailand's establishment of royalists, wealthy elites and the urban middle class against the poor supporters of Thaksin, who originate mostly from provinces north of Bangkok, the country's lowest-income regions.
By morning, streets near the stadium were littered with broken glass and rocks, a Reuters witness said. A red-shirt leader, Jatuporn Promphan, said four red shirts had been killed, but Reuters only confirmed one, 43-year-old red shirt guard Viroj Kemnak.
Forty-five people were wounded in the fighting, according to the government's Erawan emergency center.
Thousands of red shirts have begun to return by bus to their homes in northern Thailand, but their departure is unlikely to defuse Thailand's worst political crisis since April-May 2010, a period of unrest that ended with a military crackdown. In all, 91 people were killed, mostly Thaksin supporters.