The Thai activist who led a blockade of the kingdom’s main airports last year was shot and wounded in the head yesterday in an assassination attempt that the government said was aimed at inciting fresh unrest.
Doctors said that Sondhi Limthongkul, founder of the “Yellow Shirts” royalist movement that helped topple former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was out of danger after an operation to remove a bullet fragment from his skull.
Gunmen wielding automatic weapons fired about 100 rounds at his car in a dawn attack, wounding Sondhi as well as his driver and an aide, a local police commander said.
The attack will heighten tensions between Sondhi’s Yellow Shirts and Thaksin’s rival Red Shirts, who took to the streets of Bangkok this week in violent battles with security forces.
The ambush took place as Sondhi, the leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) that seized Bangkok’s two airports for nine days last year, was on his way to record a program for his private television station.
“At least two attackers followed Sondhi’s car, overtook it and sprayed it with about 100 rounds of gunfire from AK-47 and M-16s,” said the police commander, Colonel King Kwaengwisatchaicharn.
“The motive for the attack is still under investigation,” he said.
Suriyasai Katasila, spokesman for the royalist PAD, refused to blame the rival Red Shirts for the attack and suggested it had been an organized hit.
“The operation was quite daring by people who are not afraid of the law ... I suspect the situation may be more complicated than we think,” he said.
He had earlier told reporters he was confident the attack was politically motivated.