At least five dead in army crackdown on Thai protests

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At least five people, including an Italian journalist, were killed Wednesday during an army crackdown on an anti-government protest site in Bangkok, police and a hospital said.

"An Italian man was shot and died before arriving at the hospital," said Police Hospital director Jongjet Aoajenpong. "He's a journalist. He was shot in the stomach," he added.

Four more people died and "many" were wounded, said a police spokesman, Major General Piya Uthayo, after military armoured vehicles smashed through the "Red Shirt" protesters' barricades and armed troops moved in.

An AFP photographer saw two protesters lying dead on the ground after being shot in the head when troops pushed into the encampment, where several thousand demonstrators remained despite a government warning to leave.

Ten wounded people were taken to the Police Hospital, including another foreign journalist, a reporter with Dutch national TV, Michel Maas.

"I got shot from behind through the shoulder. It's just a flesh wound," he told AFP at the hospital.

© 2010 AFP

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