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Newspaper employee's car set ablaze in Bangkok

(SEAPA/IFEX) - On 2 April 2010, a car belonging to an employee of Thailand's local daily "Matichon" burned down after a makeshift bomb was lobbed at it by two unidentified attackers riding on a motorcycle, raising alarm among the media community that the current political conflict-associated violence is starting to spill over to media outlets and journalists.

The attack took place around 1:00 am as the red Toyota car belonging to Lertrob Cheuaman, 38, the company's messenger, was parked outside the gate of Matichon Co., Ltd. The company's security guards quickly extinguished the fire. No one was injured in the incident.

Neither prime suspects nor the motive of the attack have been identified, but Veerasak Pong-aksorn, secretary-general of the Thai Journalists Association (TJA) expressed concern that this incident and preceding bomb attacks on government military premises and media outlets might indicate more frequent attacks on media workers and their premises.

In the past month, at least 20 bomb attacks against government premises were recorded. On 27 March, M79 grenades were lobbed at the Royal Thai Army-owned Channel 5 and state-owned Channel 11 in two separate attacks, causing 11 people to be injured.

"I see that the number of threats against the media organizations has worriedly increased. Although no attacker could be identified it is understandable that these incidents are the work of groups who benefit from the use of violence. Society should condemn those who are responsible for such violence," Veerasak said.

The TJA secretary-general insisted that the media - be they field reporters or media organizations - are not party to the current conflict and try to perform their best duty in providing comprehensive coverage of the conflict that may not be able to satisfy all differing parties. "But people can always use legal means and the existing media self-regulatory mechanism to address unethical news reports or views," he noted.

Veerasak urged the government and responsible agencies to step up security measures in order to protect public order and safety and expedite actions to quickly bring attackers to justice because the degree of violence has shown signs of increasing in frequency and severity.

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