A renegade Thai general was shot in Bangkok on Thursday as the military planned to encircle barricaded antigovernment demonstrators. He predicted that the protests would become “civil warfare” in an interview with Radio Free Asia (RFA) just hours before he was struck in the head with a bullet.
“It is an insurgency warfare that will be developed into civil warfare. The mobs are flaring and other demonstrators from other provinces will join in,” Maj. Gen. Khattiya Sawatdiphol, 59, known as Seh Daeng, said in one of his last interviews before the shooting.
“So they won’t care if their tap water and power are cut off. They have their own supplies. They don’t care about the sky train. They have abundant food supplies, and they can even sneak out to get them,” said Khattiya, who claimed to be in direct contact with ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
“There is no question of what next. They don’t know. The People’s Army are programmed to demand the dissolution of Parliament. If the tanks come in — if anything comes in to bother them — they will fight, and they don’t need training from me.”
“They removed the bolts [from military armored personnel carriers or APCs], stomped on them, sprayed fire extinguishers into the APCs, and the soldiers fled like pigs. When the protesters were shot and fell down, they stood up and picked up the shields and sprayed the soldiers with curry and hot water,” he said.
News agencies quoted an aide as saying Khattiya was shot in the head by a sniper. Local media reports said he was taken to Hua Chiew Hospital after Chulalongkorn Hospital refused to treat him. He is currently in critical condition.
Khattiya is a renegade army major general whom the government has branded a “terrorist” and a mastermind behind violence from anti-government protesters. He was suspended from the army and became a fugitive from justice, although he continued to move freely about the capital.
Khattiya, 58, was struck in the head by a bullet during an interview with the International Herald Tribune at about 7:00 pm on the street in central Bangkok, the newspaper reported.
After a loud bang, “The general fell to the ground, with his eyes wide open, and protesters took his apparently lifeless body to the hospital, screaming out his nickname,” the newspaper said online.
The report of Khattiya’s shooting came after sounds of gunfire and at least four explosions.
Khattiya, who helped build the barricades paralyzing downtown Bangkok, was accused of creating a paramilitary force among the anti-government protesters and had vowed to fight the army in the event of a crackdown.
A reporter for TNN television said electricity went out late Thursday in the Red Shirt protest zone in Rajprasong, an upscale retail and residential area they have occupied since April 3.
The Red Shirts, many from the rural poor, are demanding an immediate dissolution of Parliament, alleging that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s coalition government came to power illegitimately through manipulation of the courts and support from the powerful military.
Original reporting and translation is from the Thai by RFA staff in Bangkok. Additional reporting by news agencies. Executive producer: Susan Lavery. Written and produced in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.