(20 January) The Thai authorities have set a 200,000 baht bounty on the suspect behind the grenade attack on anti-government protesters.
The man was seen on a CCTV footage throwing a grenade at the supporters of People′s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State (PCAD) who were rallying around Victory Monument yesterday.
The blast wounded a total of 28 people – 9 of them severely. The wounded victims included a journalist and a relative of Mr. Thaworn Senniam, a leader of PCAD, who was giving speech on the stage close to where the grenade landed.
The suspect immediately fled the scene, and threw another grenade at a crowd of PCAD guards who gave chase, witnesses said. Afterwards, as he was running away in an alley, the suspect drew out a handgun and shot at one of his pursuers, wounding the man in the stomach, according to witnesses.
The suspect eventually eluded the chase.
Nevertheless, he was filmed on a CCTV mounted on a bubble tea shop when he threw the grenade. The footage is being widely shared on the social network in the hope of identifying the man.
The attack has been condemned by both PCAD leaders and governmental officials.
Today the Centre for Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) announced that members of the public who have information on the suspect would rewarded with 200,000 baht by the Royal Thai Police.
As the head of CAPO, Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul also stressed that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is deeply concerned by the incident, and she has instructed the security forces to capture the perpetrator as soon as possible.
CAPO is also planning to discuss with PCAD leaderships about possible joint efforts to provide security to the protesters, Mr. Surapong added.
Pol.Maj.Gen. Adul Narongsak, spokesman of the Bangkok Metropolitan Police, noted that the suspect might have been well trained in combat capabilities, judging from his ability to infiltrate the protest site unnoticed, his good knowledge of the terrains around the rally site, and his uses of grenade and handgun to elude from the pursuers.
"Even members of the police or the military could not have executed such a brazen operation if they were not specifically trained to do so," Pol.Maj.Gen. Adul said.
Those who recognise the perpetrator should immediately call the police hotline via 1599, Pol.Maj.Gen. Adul added.
Meanwhile, Pol.Gen. Worapong Chiewpreecha, Deputy Chief of the Royal Thai Police, said the grenade used by the suspect was likely a Chinese-manufactured RGD-5, which is reportedly the same type involved in the deadly grenade attack on PCAD demonstrators on Banthat Thong Road last week.
Pol.Gen. Worapong also told our correspondent is "confident" that the perpetrator behind the Victory Monument grenade attack would be arrested.
He attributed his confidence to the fact that PCAD guards have allowed the police into their rally site and investigate the crime scene in timely manner, unlike the incident at Banthat Thong Road, in which PCAD protesters refused to let the police to investigate the scene.
Citing intelligence reports, Pol.Gen. Worapong said the perpetrator belongs to a group of 6 armed militants who have been well trained in weapon handling. The group′s objective is to cause violence around Bangkok in order to escalate the ongoing political crisis, according to Pol.Gen. Worapong.
"I believe the grenade attacks and shootings in various spots are all connected," Pol.Gen. Worapong said.
The suggestion that these attacks have been orchestrated by combat-trained individuals has resulted in much-circulated rumour on the social network that members of the military might have been involved. One such rumour specifically claimed that the Victory Monument suspect might be a Royal Thai Navy officer.
Concerned by the rumours, Rear Admiral Winai, Chief of the Navy Special Warfare Command, told reporters that the Navy is not behind the violence in any way.
In a curious move, Rear Admiral Winai also said he has consulted with his staff and will proceed to file defamation lawsuit against the Royal Thai Police for spreading the rumour.
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