Thai protest leader's attempted assassination shatters hope for calm
The prime minister Friday extended the state of emergency he declared last week after rival protesters descended on the capital.
r A daily summary of global reports on security issues.Skip to next paragraph
Israeli general hints at another Gaza campaign
Unclaimed attack on Islamic school raises tension in Nigeria
See no evil? Activists doubt credibility of Arab League mission to Syria.
Arab League observers head to Syria's war-ravaged Homs
Christmas church bombings put global spotlight on 'Nigerian Taliban' (VIDEO)
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Days after Thai authorities brought an end to massive antigovernment protests, elevating hopes for national reconciliation, an assassination attempt has shattered the Asian kingdom's momentary peace.
Gunmen wounded Sondhi Limthongkul, leader of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), commonly known at the "yellow shirts," in an early morning attack Friday. Mr. Limthongkul's organization shut down the Thai international airport for eight days in December and is the main rival of the "red shirt" movement, whose protests created a state of emergency in Thailand a week ago.
Limthongkul, a media mogul, was on his way to a TV station to host his regular talk show when two vehicles pulled beside his vehicle and opened fire. "At least two attackers followed Mr Sondhi's car, overtook it and sprayed it with about 100 rounds of gunfire from AK-47 and M-16s,'' police Col. King Kwaengwisatchaicharn told the BangkokPost.com. The rifle fire injured Limthongkul, his driver, and one of his body guards.
Doctors have stabilized Limthongkul, but it remains unclear who was behind the attempt on his life, reports The Nation, an English-language Thai newspaper.
[T]hose close to him said he had too many enemies to pinpoint who could have masterminded the assassination attempt. He has heavily criticized the police and the military over their handling of the pro-Thaksin red-shirted protests and called for removal of police and military leaders.
PAD members oppose the return of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was removed from power in a 2006 coup. They are mostly royalists, middle class, and businessmen. Their opponents accuse them of being antidemocratic because they support appointed officials instead of elected. Following the attempted murder of Limthongkul, Time magazine reports that PAD lawyers have accused their red shirt rivals.
A lawyer for the PAD said his group would not respond to the assassination attempt with violence. "We want the way of peace, not payback. We will only use violence to defend ourselves, as is permissible under the law. But this is bad. It means a civil war is starting, and Thailand could end up like Rwanda," said Puchong Tirawatana. Puchong blamed the Red Shirts for the assassination attempt on Sondhi, and said there were police and military men who were red shirt members or sympathizers. Red Shirt leadership and the police have yet to comment.