In Thailand, grenades hit two state television stations

New York, March 29, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns and calls for a thorough investigation into grenade attacks launched against two state-owned television news stations in Thailand. The attacks—one against army-run Channel 5, the other against the National Broadcasting Services of Thailand (NBT)—took place Saturday night in the capital, Bangkok. 

“We call upon both sides of Thailand’s political conflict to exercise restraint and allow reporters to do their jobs without fear of attack or reprisal,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “The media should be protected and treated as an observer, not a participant, to the country’s political conflict.”

According to local and international news reports, motorcycle-riding assailants threw a grenade at Channel 5’s headquarters, which is situated near military installations, at around 7 p.m. Two soldiers and two civilians were seriously hurt, while three others were treated at hospitals and released the same evening, according to the reports.

The attack against the headquarters of NBT, which is managed by the prime mister’s office, was reported at the 9:40 p.m. and left one security worker injured, according to news reports. No suspects were arrested or identified in either attack.

The attacks come in the context of escalating anti-government street demonstrations spearheaded by the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), which has called on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve parliament and call new elections. 

The UDD is aligned with exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup. During recent protests, Thaksin has made a number of video-linked statements that were critical of the government and carried on the UDD-aligned satellite news broadcaster D-Station.

In April 2009, UDD-led protests evolved into rioting, and the government temporarily shut down D-Station after declaring a state of emergency. UDD supporters threatened and assaulted various Thai television reporters—including those from Channel 5 and NBT—over perceived biased news coverage against their demonstrations.