01/02/2007, 00.00
THAILAND
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Government accuses “ex politicians” of Bangkok blasts and steps up security

by Weena Kowitwanji
Premier Surayud Chulanont said those who have “lost power” were behind the New Year blasts that killed three people. The deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has denied involvement. Analysts have warned: now the junta has a pretext to get rid of its opponents.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – The Thai ad interim military government is sure that ex-politicians are behind eight bombs that went off on the night of 31 December in Bangkok. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks that killed three people and injured 38, including nine foreigners. All New Year celebrations were cancelled and security levels are at their highest in the capital today.

 

Addressing a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Suryad Chulanont said information available indicated that politicians who had been ousted should be investigated rather than separatist Muslim groups fighting in the south of the country. Surayad however refused to reveal any of the evidence he had in hand. “We cannot say at this point which group was involved,” the ex-general said. “Based on what we know from Intelligence agencies, it seems that (the bombs) come from groups that have lost political powers.” The obvious reference is to members of the government of Thaksin Shinawatra, the premier deposed on 19 September after a bloodless coup d’etat. But Surayad added: “We don’t only mean groups belonging to the former government but all those who lost power in the past.”

 

Politicians close to Thaksin have denied any involvement. Through his lawyer, the former prime minister, still waiting to be allowed to reenter Thailand after the coup, said that the “insinuations” about his involvement in the blasts were “unjust”.

 

Sonthi Boonyaratglin, the general heading the National Security Council, as the junta styles itself, shares the same view as Surayad about the New Year’s Eve attacks. He said yesterday:  “It is believed to be the act of politicians who lost their benefits.  Moreover the group of people we are investigating wants to destroy national stability and the economy and to discredit the government in order to overthrow it.”

 

Some analysts believe the allegations leveled against vaguely described “ex-politicians” could serve the junta as a pretext to clear out factions still unhappy about the coup d’etat. Yesterday two members of the Thaksin party, Thai Rak Thai, who were arrested after the coup, were interrogated while several representatives of the former government will have to report to the National Security Council.

 

Meanwhile the authorities have deployed the police and army in a mass security operation. This decision also appears to be significant: Bangkok flanked police officers with soldiers because it does not trust the police who may be potential supporters of Thaksin, once a police colonel.

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