No casualties reported; spokesman says military will alter security tactics
Gunmen attacked a pro-government radio station in Tak’s Mae Sot district early yesterday, while five grenades were launched at an Army unit in northern Bangkok not far from an anti-government protest site.
There were no casualties in either attack, which are both believed to have been politically motivated.
Quoting radio-station staff, police said the gunmen reportedly arrived in a pickup truck and opened fire at around 4am, hitting the station building and damaging a parked vehicle.
Members of staff returned fire and the gunfight ended after around 10 minutes. Police found 28 holes from AK-47 bullets in the building and the vehicle.
A local red-shirt leader, Chartchai Ua-angkoonkhajorn, said he thought some gunmen might have been wounded or killed judging from what they said to each other during the clash.
The station, airing on the 90.5MHz frequency, is operated by red hardliner Wuthipong “Ko Tee” Kotthammakhun based in Pathum Thani. The station, which will begin its trial run today, is to be officially inaugurated on April 5.
Chartchai said he believed a large number of red-shirt supporters from the North would attend the inauguration ceremony.
The radio station is close to a key transport terminal in Mae Sot and the attack has prompted fear among residents and commuters, police said.
In a separate incident on Wednesday at around 11pm, five M79 grenades were launched at the compound of the 6th Anti-Aircraft Artillery battalion, not far from the Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana Road, which is occupied by anti-government protesters.
Four of the grenades exploded, Army commander-in-chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said. Later, Deputy Army spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvari said security measures at this Army unit would be altered to cope with rising politics-related attacks.
Winthai also criticised a group of red-shirt supporters who chased away a squad of soldiers stationed near the National Anti-Corruption Commission headquarters and dismantled their bunker. He said the NACC was a frequent target of attacks and that the squad had been placed there by the government’s Centre for Administration for Peace and Order (CAPO).
The spokesman said this group of red shirts would be held responsible if there was any violence or further attacks there because they had driven away the soldiers guarding the area.
Meanwhile, police spokesman Pol Maj-General Piya Uthayo said yesterday that police were capable of coping with the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) march tomorrow.
So far, he said, there were no intelligence reports suggesting planned violence. Though the group has not yet announced the route of the march, Piya said police expected it to head to Parliament House, the Royal Plaza and the Victory Monument.
He added that no PDRC supporters were heading in large numbers to Bangkok from the provinces as they planned to congregate in their home towns. Also, the red shirts had no plans to meet tomorrow either.
Police and military officers will coordinate with PDRC leaders to work out security measures in coordination with CAPO, Piya added.