Dissident Thai General shot by sniper while talking to NYT reporter

Major General Khattiya Sawasdipol was shot in the head yesterday while talking to a New York Times newspaper reporter and just as Schearf approached him to ask a question.

Seconds later, protest security guards yelled at journalists and on-lookers to stay back as they tried to help the general – also known as Seh Daeng  – into a van and to the hospital.  After he was driven away, explosions rang out and the protesters, called the Red Shirts, scattered.

One protester, who was trying to get people to leave the area, says soldiers fired a grenade and used live ammunition.  The protester said, “A soldier, Thai soldier, he shoot M16 and M79 to Thai people, Red Shirts.”  But his claims could not be verified in the ensuring chaos.

Thai authorities have accused protesters of hiding guns and grenades. Adding to the confusion immediately following the shooting, demonstrators began lighting fireworks. Some protesters used bamboo poles to break billboard street lights, apparently concerned that snipers would see them.

Khattiya Sawasdipol, alias Seh Daeng former major general in the Royal Thai Army claims to have helped the United States spy on North Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and to have taken part in the CIA-financed “Secret War” against the communists in the Plain of Jars, in Laos. Khattiya disguised himself as a Muslim in order to infiltrate rebel groups in Aceh Indonesia.

He came into conflict with the Thai police commander, General Seri Temiyavet, during the investigation of a large gambling den in 2006. General Seri filed a libel suit against Khattiya, who was arrested and sentenced to prison for four months. Khattiya has since brought a 600 million Baht libel suit against Seri for defamation.

Khattiya made news on October 18, 2008, by announcing “he would mobilise government supporters against any military attempt to seize political power.”

On 14 January 2010, Army Commander Anupong Paochinda ordered a suspension of Khattiya Sawasdipol after an inquiry committee found that Khattiya has expressly paid loyalty to the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship, a political pressure group supporting Thaksin Shinawatra, breaching official disciplines.

The following day, Anupong’s office in the Royal Thai Army Headquarters was bombed by rockets launched by M79, left the office demolished but no person injured.

Source Voice of America

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