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Wed, January 31, 2007 : Last updated 20:56 pm (Thai local time)

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Home > Headlines > Attack was meant to 'intimidate the media'

Attack was meant to 'intimidate the media'

Daily News executive Pracha Hetrakul described yesterday's bomb attack on his newspaper office as an attempt to intimidate the media in general.

The bomb blast erupted in the compound of Si-Phya Publishing Co, which operates the Thai-language newspaper, at around 1.30am yesterday seconds after another training grenade landed in the Rama Gardens Hotel's car park next door.

The blasts caused minor damage, but no casualties.

"I believe this is intimidation against the media," Pracha said, adding there were no reports or opinion pieces in the Daily News that could have singled it out as a target for attack.

He said if such intimidation tactics worked, the people would lose because the media delivered information to them.

TJA slams new blasts

The Thai Journalists Association condemned yesterday's bomb blasts at the Daily News office and nearby Rama Gardens Hotel as inhumane and brutal.

The explosions around 1:30 am were blatant crimes against media freedom that tarnished the country's reputation and aggravated problems the country was now facing, the TJA said.

In its statement, the TJA also called on Police Commissioner-General Pol Gen Kowit Wattana to urgently bring the perpetrators to justice.

Democrat Party's secretary general Suthep Thaugsuban also believed the bomb blast at the Daily News office was intended to intimidate media circles.

"We must condemn such intimidation," he said.

Without naming anyone, Suthep said the person who used to be in power might have been upset that the media did not kow-tow to him anymore. "That person controlled the media for five or six years," Suthep said.

An informed source also revealed that before the coup took place, Surayud - who was then a privy councillor - once asked an executive of the Daily News to arrange a meeting between him, the then deputy premier, and the Thai Rak Thai's deputy leader Somkid Jatusripitak.

The source said when the pair met Surayud said he thought Somkid was an appropriate choice for the post of prime minister.

As of press time yesterday, police were still trying to determine who fired the two training grenades into the Daily News office and the hotel's car park - from where and why.

"We have yet to determine the cause of the bomb attacks," Assistant National Police Commissioner Lt General Jongrak Juthanont said.

There are also differing opinions as to where the grenades were fired.

While an investigation team at the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) believed the grenades were fired from the elevated Don Muang tollway, another team at the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) suggested the grenades might have been fired from a deserted school next to the Daily News office.

The MPB team said they were pursuing leads from video recordings retrieved from a surveillance camera. It said the recordings showed a car suspiciously slowed down on a portion of the Don Muang tollway at the time the two grenades could have been launched from there to the two targets below.

"There were not many vehicles on the tollway at that time. We should be able to track down the owner of the suspicious vehicle," an informed source quoted an investigator as saying.

According to the source, the crucial recordings showed the driver of the suspicious car and its registration plate.

Because inspections at the blast scenes pointed to an M79 grenade launcher being used in the attacks, the source said investigators were looking into which agencies possessed such a launcher.

"The person who fired the grenades must have been an expert too. Based on the information from a security guard, the two blasts went off just 10 seconds apart," the source said.

So far, the CSD team said it was more likely that the grenades were launched from a deserted school building next to the office.

"Local people said they heard dogs barking in the middle of the night, followed by the bomb blasts," the team said.

Thung Song Hong police station's inspector Lt Col Manit Kasemsiri, believed the blasts did not cause serious damage because they were only training grenades.

National Police Chief General Kowit Watana also inspected the scene. "I have reported the incident to the Council for National Security. I have ordered police officers to step up security measures," he said.

He also called on people to watch out and alert the authorities if they detect anything suspicious.

Currently, police have yet to complete their investigation into eight bombs in the heart of Bangkok on New Year's Eve in which three people were killed and dozens more injured.

Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont declined to comment on the cause of yesterday's bomb blasts. "Police will investigate and identify suspects," he said.

He insisted the latest bomb blasts would not prompt the government to re-impose martial law in Bangkok. Martial law was removed last Friday.

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