17 Apr 2009

Thai protest leader injured in shooting

8:14 pm on 17 April 2009

The leader of a Thai protest movement which brought down former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been shot and injured.

Sondhi Limthongkul's yellow-shirted People's Alliance of Democracy led the demonstrations in 2006.

Mr Sondhi was ambushed by gunmen who attacked his car in Bangkok early on Friday, spraying it with bullets and hitting Mr Sondhi in the shoulder.

He has now had an operation and his life is out of danger, a hospital director said.

Red-shirted supporters of Mr Thaksin, who is now in self-imposed exile in Dubai, have held their own protests in recent weeks. They want the current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to step down, and fresh elections to be held.

Mr Thaksin has appealed to the widely-revered Thai king, Bhumipol Adulyadej, to intervene to end the country's political crisis.

Thailand annulled Mr Thaksin's passport after his supporters forced the cancellation of a high-profile summit of leaders from the Asia and Pacific last weekend and were involved in clashes with security forces in Bangkok on Monday.

The attack on Mr Sondhi came at dawn on Friday, as he was travelling to record a programme at his television station.

The fear is that this attack could bring the yellow shirts out onto the streets again and spark factional violence with Mr Thaksin's red-shirted supporters, the BBC reports.