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As if Bangkok wasn't mired in enough street violence this week, now there's this.
Thailand woke up to the news that Sondhi Limthongkul — spitfire media magnate and leader of the yellow-clad protesters who seized the airport in November — was ambushed this morning by gunmen in a pick-up truck. They surrounded his luxury van and filled it with dozens of AK-47 and M-16 bullets.
Miraculously, Sondhi is alive after doctors pulled steel fragments out of his skull.
A quick primer on Sondhi — and a few reasons why we should care. Sondhi is the face of a (now dormant) street movement fighting, more or less, to sustain the status quo. Put simply, his yellow-shirt mob is pro-establishment and fearful that a new wave of politicians voted in by Thailand's poor will corrupt the kingdom.
Sondhi is shrill, sort of like a Thai Glenn Beck. I swear they even look alike.
It's way too soon to speculate (publicly) who called the hit on this pro-establishment figurehead.
But his rivals, the red shirt political mob that revolted through Bangkok this week, are deeply embittered after soldiers shut their movement down. They were also brazen enough recently to go after a sedan that they believed carried the prime minister, who they want to oust.
These attacks, and the attack on Sondhi, signal a very frightening radicalism — a willingness to directly harm political figureheads, not just march against them.
That's how riots are ignited. That's how martyrs are made.
Thailand is far too fragile right now for this.