BANGKOK, Apr 23 – Thailand’s powerful army chief admitted Thursday that three bullets used in an assassination attempt on a political activist last week came from a military unit.
Investigators found 20 bullet casings at the site of the attack on Sondhi Limthongkul, founder of the "Yellow Shirts" movement which led a blockade of Bangkok’s airports last year, General Anupong Paojinda said.
"Based on investigations, three of them were M16 bullets which were distributed in the First Army region to the Ninth Infantry," Anupong told reporters, referring to the widely used M16 assault rifle.
"As far as I know the bullets were distributed for drill practice. However, there are many units in this infantry and at this moment it is still under investigation how the bullets were leaked," he said.
Anupong said the army would prosecute those involved in leaking the bullets.
Media mogul Sondhi, his driver and his aide were wounded when up to seven gunmen believed to be riding in two pick-up trucks sprayed his car with automatic gunfire in Bangkok Friday.
Sondhi’s movement, the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), said last week that it believed "men in uniform" were to blame, a suspicion echoed by local media.
In recent weeks the group has called for a shake-up within army ranks.
But Sondhi also has enemies in Thailand’s business community and among the rival "Red Shirt" movement loyal to ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, which was behind huge street protests earlier this month.
Protests by the PAD led to the coup which toppled Thaksin in 2006, and took to the streets again in 2008 to oppose governments led by Thaksin’s allies in a campaign that peaked with the airport blockade.
The group has been relatively quiet since Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva — whose Democrat Party also loathes Thaksin — came to power in December.