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Pattaya Daily News

07 April 2009 :: 21:04:41 pm 27824

Red Shirt Protesters Attack Prime Minister’s car in Central Pattaya

In the afternoon of 7th April 2009, a car driving Thailand's Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, was attacked by a group of red-shirted anti-government protesters, whilst waiting at a red traffic light in the middle of Pattaya. The protesters managed to smash the rear window before the car continued on its journey. The Prime ministers driver was injured in the attack.
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The prime minister was on his way back to Bangkok from a weekly cabinet meeting at the Royal Cliff Hotel. He was also checking on preparations at the hotel which is the venue for this weekend’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit with its Plus Three and Plus Six dialogue partners.

On leaving the hotel Mr. Abhisit was concerned at being intercepted by protesters and decided to make a last minute change to his intended route. He also switched cars to a less conspicuous silver Nissan Pardo in order to trick any red-shirts who may be following. The procession of vehicles headed along Pratumnak Road to Pattaya Third Road, with Chonburi Police Commander, Pol.Maj.Gen. Bundit Kunnajak, in the first car, followed by the Prime Minister, and then 4 other Pattaya police cars.

As the convoy arrived at the junction of Third Road and South Pattaya Road the lead car went through the green light but the Nissan was stopped as the lights turned red. The traffic police did not realize that the Prime Minister was sitting in the back seat of the Nissan. Suddenly a group of about ten Red shirt protesters, who were following close behind on motorbikes with side cars, stopped close to the Nissan, and slapped the car with their foot shaped clappers. Some of the protesters then proceeded to smash the rear window with their helmets. Three police officers ran to stop them and the Nissan sped away quickly.

An eye-witness, Mr. Chokchai Choompetch [42], a restaurant owner, said he was standing by the road when he saw the Nissan stopped at the red light and a group of red-shirts swung their vehicle to block its escape and rushed out to pound on the car and smashed the back window.

The prime minister was unharmed in the attack but his driver was injured. Mr. Abhisit later told reporters in Bangkok that he was alright, that he wasn’t scared and could still perform his work normally. However, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban called for immediate police action, demanding the arrest of the 10 attackers within 12 hours.

At 3:30 pm Pattaya Superintendent Pol. Col. Sarayut Sa-ngounpokai held an urgent meeting to demand his police team take responsibility and try to find the ten protesters and bring them to justice.

Within 3 hours, two protesters, identified from CCTV footage, were arrested. The suspects (names withheld), have confessed to being among the group which attacked Mr. Abhisit’s car.

Also, Mr. Wanchalerm Kullasen [22], reported to Pattaya police investigator Pol. Lt. Col. Polakrit Kumsatien, that his motorbike had been damaged by one of the Prime Minister’s bodyguards.

And at the same time, two women, Mrs. Sumruay Sangprapa[43] and Mrs. Jidapa Tanahuttachai [48] , both red shirt protesters, also reported that they were attacked by the bodyguards. Police sent them to hospital for examination and would investigate their claim further.

Today’s incident has raised serious concerns about security for the forthcoming ASEAN summit, and for the several thousand US Marines who are visiting the city at the same time.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : PDN staff   Category : Politics News

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