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Projectiles hurled at Thai daily after cartoonist's controversial post

Reporters Without Borders deplores an attack by four men who threw various projectiles at the security box outside the Bangkok headquarters of the Thai Rath daily newspaper on 11 May 2013, causing minor damage and slightly injuring two security guards.

The attack came a few days after one of the newspaper's cartoonists, Somchai Katanyutanan, who uses the pen name of Chai Ratchawat, posted a controversial comment on his Facebook page about Thailand's prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's sister.

"We firmly condemn this attack on Thai Rath's headquarters and we call on the police to quickly identify those responsible in order to establish their motives and bring them to justice," Reporters Without Borders said.

The police said four men on two motorcycles threw the projectiles at the security box at around 3:20 a.m., while the security cameras were undergoing maintenance. One of the box's windows was shattered. The security guards immediately called the police, who tried to take fingerprints from some of the projectiles.

The attack came amid a dispute between Somchai and Prime Minister Yingluck's supporters about the caption of the photo of Yingluck that he posted on 30 April, the day after she addressed a democracy forum in Ulan Bator.

The caption said: "Prostitutes are not evil. They just sell their bodies. But an evil woman sells the nation." The prime minister has filed a defamation suit over the caption.

Metropolitan police chief Kamronwit Thoopkrachang said Thai Rath's assailants may have carried out the attack at the height of the current controversy so that suspicion would fall on the government's supporters.

The prime minister's party, Pheu Thai, blamed the attack on the "Red Shirt" supporters of Thaksin, who was ousted as prime minister in 2006. Several days before the attack, Red Shirts demonstrated outside the newspaper to demand that the cartoonist be punished.

Pheu Thai has condemned the attack and has promised a thorough police investigation.

On 5 May, information technology and communications minister Anudith Nakornthap threatened websites publishing critical comments about the prime minister with closure and with prosecutions that could result in sentences of up to seven years in prison for those responsible.

But he backed down two days later, on 7 May, saying that only a criminal court could decide to close a website and that using the Internet to express an opinion could not be prohibited.

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