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Police say more gunshots fired in Bangkok

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THANYARAT DOKSONE | November 30, 2013 10:20 PM EST | AP

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BANGKOK (AP) — Gunshots were fired Sunday morning in the Thai capital as authorities braced for more violence a day after aggressive political protests erupted in street fighting between supporters and opponents of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The nighttime clashes left at least one man dead and 35 wounded. It was not clear if the latest gunshots caused more injuries.

Police Col. Narongrit Promsawat told The Associated Press there were "sporadic shootings" Sunday in the northeastern neighborhood of Bangkok where the clashes broke out the day before near a stadium holding a large pro-government rally.

Demonstrators took to the streets a week ago seeking to topple Yingluck's government, which they believe serves the interests of her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a 2006 military coup after being accused of corruption and abuse of power.

The violence in the short run may stir fears of further instability like what plagued the country during related political conflicts in 2006, 2008 and 2010. Any escalation is likely to scare away tourists who come to Thailand by the millions and contribute a huge chunk to the economy. But it may help the government by undermining the claims of its opponents to be carrying out a nonviolent campaign of civil disobedience.

The nighttime clashes involved opponents of the government, led by university students, who tried to block government supporters from entering the rally, which drew more than 50,000 people.

At least some of Sunday's gunshots appeared to have been fired into the nearby university, according to Wutthisak Larpcharoensap, rector of Ramkhamhaeng University.

"Rght now there are sporadic shootings into the campus," said Wutthisak. "Now there are about 2,000 students inside the campus and I'm very worried about the safety of my students."

"We are locking down the campus right now for safety concerns," he said.

Bangkok Emergency Medical Services reported on its website that at least one person was killed and 35 people were wounded. The rector said that another body with apparent gunshot wounds was found Sunday morning.

Matters were feared to come to a head Sunday, when the protesters vowed to seize the well-guarded prime minister's offices.

"I am confident we will declare victory today," said Akanat Promphan, a spokesman for the anti-government protesters. "We will not retreat out of fear, we will move forward."

Thousands of riot police backed by soldiers guarded Thailand's Government House and other key sites, including the Parliament and police headquarters.

A special police-led peacekeeping agency said that the military agreed to send 2,730 personnel to help with security on the streets. Although the army has declared itself neutral in the current crisis, it deposed Thaksin in 2006 and shows little sympathy for him.

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Associated Press writers Grant Peck, Jocelyn Gecker and Raul Gallego Abellan contributed to this report.