Renegade Thai general Khattiya Sawasdipol, who was shot on Thursday as he backed protesters in Bangkok, has died, hospital officials have said.
The announcement came amid fresh fighting between the protesters and soldiers after Thai officials rejected a demand for UN-backed talks.
There was gunfire and explosions outside upscale hotels opposite the protesters’ fortified encampment.
Thirty-six people have been killed in the violence since Thursday.
Maj Gen Khattiya, known as Seh Daeng (Commander Red), was shot in the head on Thursday as he spoke to a New York Times journalist within the protesters’ rally site.
He had been in a critical condition in hospital and had not been expected to pull through.
His shooting marked the beginning of clashes between soldiers and protesters that have raged on-and-off since then.
It is not clear who shot him, but some among the protesters were quick to blame army snipers.
‘A lot of shooting’
The fresh fighting overnight along a street of upscale hotels saw the first death among the soldiers, officials said.
Guests at one of the hotels, the Dusit Thani, were rushed from their rooms into the building’s basement after gunfire and explosions shook the area.
“Everybody was evacuated from their room and spent the night in the basement,” a photographer for the Reuters news agency said. “There was a lot of shooting.”
Besides the deaths, about 200 people have been injured in the clashes. Previous violence since the protests began in March have left more than 60 people dead and at least 1,600 wounded.
The Dusit Thani hotel is across from Lumpini Park in a district of expensive hotels, embassies and shopping malls that has been taken over by the protesters.
Army sharpshooters behind sand-bagged barricades have been firing live rounds at protesters.
Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the troops were “not using weapons to crack down on civilians”.
He said armed “terrorists” among the protesters were being targeted.
The protesters, called red-shirts after the colour they have adopted, have been throwing stones, petrol bombs and fireworks at the soldiers and setting barricades of tyres on fire.
There have been reports that some among them are armed.
The latest fighting broke out after the government rejected a call from a red-shirt leader, Nattawut Saikua, to hold UN-moderated talks to end the stand-off, providing that the army withdrew from the area around the red-shirt camp.
Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn insisted that no outside help was needed.
“We reject their demands for UN mediation… No Thai government has ever let anyone intervene with our internal affairs,” he said.
A state of emergency has now been declared in 22 provinces across the country – mostly in the protesters’ northern heartlands – in a bid to stop more demonstrators heading to the capital.
Protests have spread outside the capital with a military bus set afire in the northern city of Chiang Mai and demonstrations in two north-eastern towns in defiance of a government ban.