'Six people shot' amid gunfire and explosions at Bangkok pre-election protests

Concerns over violence ahead of Sunday's national elections

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The Independent Online

At least six people have reportedly been shot in Bangkok during anti-government demonstrations.

Protesters and journalists ran for cover as the violence broke out during a stand-off between supporters and opponents of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra ahead of tomorrow’s planned election.

James Nachtwey, an award-winning American photographer, was reportedly among those caught up in the chaos.

He is believed to have suffered only minor injuries when a bullet grazed his leg.

It is unclear who fired the shots, which came as anti-government demonstrators blockaded a building where ballot papers were being stored in an attempt to disrupt distribution, according to the BBC.

A car was also attacked and several small bombs detonated before the gunfire broke out in Bangkok's Laksi district, a stronghold of ruling Pheu Thai party.

People take cover from gunfire

Protests began in November and have intensified towards tomorrow’s election, prompting warnings from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for tourists to stay inside.

Anti-government protestors, known as “yellow shirts” have accused the Prime Minister of being controlled by her brother, who was ousted in a military in 2006.

Faced with a prison sentence for corruption charges in Thailand, he now lives in voluntary exile.

Calling for an unelected “people's council”, they have vowed to boycott Sunday's elections, which Ms Yingluck is expected to win.

There have been several clashes between the group and the pro-government “red shirts”.

A two-month state of emergency in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces was declared on 21 January in response to the violence, which has seen at least nine people killed and hundreds injured.

It allows security forces to detain suspects without charge, impose curfews, censor the media, close off areas and prevent political gatherings.

The latest shootings have increased fears of violence at Sunday’s polls. Thousands of army troops and police officers have been deployed to the Thai capital to keep order.