The leader of Thailand's pro-government "Red Shirt" movement Kwanchai Praipana was shot and wounded in an attack in the northeastern town of Udon Thani on January 22.

According to police, the motive for the shooting was likely political.

They added that Praipana, who led thousands of “Red Shirts” in the city, was shot by unidentified people outside his home.

The attack happened on the ninth day of the ‘Bangkok Shutdown’ orchestrated by anti-Government protestors demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

A 60-day state of emergency came into force in Bangkok and nearby areas on January 22 to deal with the mass protests, handing the government broader powers to end the disruption.

The emergency decree, announced by Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Visarn Techateerawat after a cabinet meeting on January 21, empowers security forces to impose a curfew, detain suspects without charge, censor the media, close off parts of the city and prevent political groupings of five or more people.

The development has stirred worries among the country’s business circles, with the Thai Chamber of Commerce arguing that the imposition of the decree over such a long period of time will cause losses to businesses already struggling badly due to the ongoing demonstrations.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Council of Thailand warned that the decree will dramatically affect tourism because visitors will only be allowed to visit restricted areas in the capital. Meanwhile, the Federation of Thai Industries said violence may escalate in accordance with the level of security measures imposed.

Secretary General of the National Security Council Paradorn Pattanatabut said the police will be the key force deployed if intervention is needed. For his part, General Prayuth Cahnocha, Thai army Commander-in-Chief, said the military will closely monitor the situation and might step in if things get out of control.

In a statement, spokeswoman of the US State Department Marie Harf called upon all parties involved to commit to a sincere dialogue to resolve political differences peacefully and democratically.

The Japanese government on January 22 also called for a peaceful solution to the crisis in Thailand.-VNA