Thursday, April 16, 2009

Breaking News: Thailand: Sondhi Limthongku, Leader of Thai "Yellow Shirts" Shot, Wounded

According to Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, and other news reports, Sondhi Limthongku, the founder of the Thai political party People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), was shot in an apparent assassination attempt early on the morning of Friday, 17 April 2009, at around 5:45 am local time. Two or more gunmen shot out the tires of Sondhi’s car while it was stopped at a gas station, then shot and wounded Sondhi, his bodyguard and driver.

(Video of Sondi’s bullet-ridden car.)

Sondi’s political party, commonly referred to as the “Yellow Shirts,” was the group responsible for the 2005-2006 political crisis which resulted in the exile of the former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. As the political crisis continued through 2008 to the present, PAD was also responsible for seizing the Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport last year in a massive civil protest in November 2008, which resulted in the ouster of a government supportive of the exiled former Prime Minister.

Thaksin’s supporters, who are known as the National United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), are commonly referred to as the “Red Shirts.” They are the group responsible for the recent unrest in the streets which has resulted in several deaths and dozens of injuries. Their desire is to disband the Parliament and to call for a new election.

(Al Jazeera English Interview with Sean Boonpracong, spokesman for UDD, 12 April 2009)

The attack may increase tensions between the two political parties, and may spur additional levels of violence.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who is supported by Sondhi and the PAD, has imposed emergency rule in Bangkok this week as violence and protest continue to destablize life and commerce.

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