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Protester says Thai army tried to kill him

A THAI protest leader who survived an assassination attempt said yesterday he believes he was attacked by soldiers who were assigned to silence him because he knows too much about the shady side of Thai politics.

Sondhi Limthongkul, leader of Thailand's "yellow-shirt" movement that helped topple the government three years ago, spoke in his first news conference since the April 17 attack, in which his car was ambushed by gunmen in pickup trucks firing M-16 and AK-47 assault rifles.

"I am certain that soldiers were behind this assassination attempt," Sondhi said.

He offered no proof but listed factors that he said backed his argument, including the attackers' use of "weapons of war" and the way they positioned themselves.

Army spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd said he could not comment on Sondhi's accusations until seeing the official police report on the attack, which will only be completed after the investigation wraps up.

Sondhi's supporters earlier said they suspected army involvement in the attack, which stunned Thailand.

The army chief confirmed that bullets found at the scene of the shooting were issued to a particular military division, and said an investigation was under way to determine how they were "leaked."

"Those who were capable of doing it knew that senior officials would turn a blind eye to them," said Sondhi, who received 43 stitches in his head after doctors removed bullet shards from his skull.

His driver was seriously wounded and an aide in the car was also hurt.

Police have yet to make any arrests in the shooting, which they say involved at least five attackers, but Sondhi said he counted 10.

Sondhi said he didn't believe all closed-circuit traffic cameras in the area could have been broken that day, as officials have said.

He also questioned how the attack could have been carried out while Bangkok was in a state of emergency with military stationed in the area.


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