CAMBODIAN officials have rejected claims made in a Thai media report that a group of men suspected of involvement in a potential assassination attempt on Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva had been trained in Cambodia.
On Friday, an article in the daily newspaper The Nation quoted Thai metropolitan police commissioner Santhan Chayanont as saying that a group of Cambodian-trained “men in black” were staking out
Abhisit’s residence from a nearby condominium.
It also said former deputy permanent secretary of defence Bannawit Kengrien had reported hearing of an assassination plot, and that “a large number of Cambodian warriors of Vietnamese descent, who had undergone military training and were great snipers, had been brought in to do the job”.
“Although I often criticise this government, I must warn the premier about the reports of an assassination plot against him,” Bannawit was quoted as saying. “If he were harmed, the country’s image would be ruined.”
But Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday there was no official information to back up suggestions that Cambodia was involved in training would-be assassins.
“The Thai government should apprehend the suspects and show evidence,” he said. “Cambodia officially rejects this unruly information.”
He said Thai government officials were in the habit of disseminating baseless claims.
“Cambodia does not really care about disorderly comments made by the Thai officials,” he said.
Tith Sothea, spokesman for the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit, also dismissed the report.
“We consider this information absolutely exaggerated,” he said. “This is not the first time that Thailand has tried to fault Cambodia.”
Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said yesterday that the report was purely the product of “media speculation”.
“We haven’t got any details of the origins of these men,” he said.
“The media in Thailand are free to speculate. They do it all the time.”
He said that security measures had increased amid rumours of an assassination plot.
“We are watching the high rises around the prime minister’s compound, because there are many men coming and going [from the buildings] including certain politicians.”
He declined to name the politicians being observed entering the buildings, and said no arrests had been made because the condominiums were private property.