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Red Shirt training reported

THAI security forces have reportedly accused the Cambodian military of giving weapons training to antigovernment Red Shirts who planned to assassinate Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The reports were based on a press conference given yesterday by Payao Thongsen of Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation, who headed a probe of the allegations.

“Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation on Monday said investigation found that 39 Thai men have been trained for arms use in Cambodia for a mission to assassinate this country’s key public figures including Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva,” Thailand’s MCOT state news agency said.

“Payao elaborated that the ... three-week training was held in a Cambodian army camp, and they were trained by Cambodian soldiers.”

Eleven of the 39 men were reportedly arrested earlier this month in Thailand’s Chiang Mai province; they are under witness protection “in exchange for useful information which could lead to an arrest of other accomplices”, MCOT said. The Bangkok Post reported last week, citing a Department of Special Investigation report, that the men received their training in a jungle area roughly 200 kilometres from Siem Reap town.

Thailand’s The Nation newspaper, citing Payao, said the DSI planned to ask the Thai foreign ministry to “protest against Cambodia’s alleged
interference in Thailand’s national security”.

MCOT said only that the DSI “will seek coordination from the ministry of foreign affairs to contact Cambodian authorities on the case”.

Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said last night that his ministry had yet to receive any request from the DSI.

“We heard of the press report that came out, but we’ll have to check and follow up this with the DSI,” Thani said.

“We’re not quite sure how the news report was reported, whether it was accurate or not, so we’ll check with the source of the information.”

Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong called the accusations “completely untrue”. “Cambodia totally rejects these allegations,” he said, and added that the Kingdom was in no position to provide material or financial support to the Red Shirt movement.

“Cambodia doesn’t even have enough money to develop the country and reduce the poverty of our people, so how can we contribute money to the Red Shirts?” he said.

The inflammatory reports follow news that Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith and a delegation of Cambodian journalists will meet media and government officials in Thailand next week in an effort to promote greater communication between the two countries before the publication of information that may cause “confusion”.

In July, Kingdom authorities apprehended two Thai nationals believed to be Red Shirt supporters and suspected of involvement in a bomb attack on the headquarters of a party in Abhisit’s ruling coalition. Cambodian officials handed the suspects over to Thailand without a formal extradition request from Bangkok.

“This is to show the willingness of the government in fighting terrorism,” Koy Kuong said at the time.



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