Media vehicles and ASTV office shot up
An unknown man opened fire at four news cars yesterday parked outside ASTV media group's headquarters in Bangkok, police said.ASTV, which is supported by the People's Alliance for Democracy, recently saw two rallies by soldiers, angered by its criticism of Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha. Gen Prayuth later ordered his men to stop protesting.
Chana Songkram investigator Pol Lt Noppasit Piyarath said the shooting occurred around 3.25am, damaging the cars but no one was injured.
Police found two cars parked in front of Baan Chao Phraya to each contain a bullet hole in their windscreen. Other two cars parked in front of Santi Chaiprakan Park were also damaged; one had a bullet hole on the driver's side window that went through the front passenger's window and the other had a bullet hole on the driver's side window with the bullet inside. Police suspect the shooter used a .22-calibre handgun.
ASTV security guard Rungroj Khaoprasert, 34, told police he had to arrange for the four cars to park on the footpath because the ASTV parking lot was full. He said he heard four shots while going to a rest room at 3.25am but did not think anything was wrong as he assumed state officials were still working to install traffic signs nearby. In the morning, however, reporters found bullet holes in the four cars, Rungroj said.
Police found CCTV security footage capturing a male suspect in a black shirt and white pants walking opposite Baan Chao Phraya at 3.25am. Another CCTV camera captured the first car's windshield being shot at 3.26am, then the camera found the same man walking back towards the Kai Jae Alley at 3.28am.
Police also found windows on the second floor of ASTV's administrative building were shattered by two bullets.
City Police chief Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit Thoopkrachang said police didn't know the motives for the shooting but would discuss the incident with ASTV management. Affirming police would do their best to hunt down the attacker, he said he had already instructed police to investigate the scene and monitor more CCTV footage in the area to try to identify the suspect.
A source from the national security agency, who did not want to be named, said the agency was still looking at different motivations for the incident, including revenge against ASTV chief Sondhi Limthongkul and the yellow-shirt People's Alliance for Democracy, political instigation in the run up to the Bangkok governor election and attack on Sondhi due to personal conflicts.
Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva urged police to speedily probe the shooting, which seemed to be a threat against the media. He said the press had to present facts to the public and that might upset many people, therefore society had to protect the media so they could perform their duty with confidence.
The Thai Journalists Association and the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association yesterday issued a joint statement against media intimidation. People can scrutinise the media's exercise of freedom via agencies and channels including the Nation Press Council according to the law. The agencies also called on the Royal Thai Police to expedite investigation into the case.