BANGKOK - The main leader of Thailand's yellow shirt protest movement has blamed senior military officers and political enemies for the failed attempt on his life three weeks ago.

In his first media interview since the April 17 attack, Sondhi did not name those he suspected of giving orders to the gunmen who riddled his car with automatic rifle fire in Bangkok.

They want me out of the way because I am the biggest obstacle. I see through every one of them, the co-founder of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) told the Nation Weekend, a Thai language magazine.

Sondhi, who suffered a head wound, said the gunmen were soldiers and police, but he did not give more details of their identities. Police have made no arrests.

I saw the face of my assassin when he aimed his gun at me. I prayed that if I was going to die because of my karma, so be it, Sondhi told the magazine.

It was definitely soldiers who shot me, and some policemen may have been involved, but they are a small minority, he said.

Army chief Anupong Paochinda said on Friday if any soldiers were involved, they would be punished according to the law.

The general has also backtracked on his statement last week that some of the bullets fired at Sondhi's car were from the military.


The attack, which came days after violent protests by anti-government red shirts were put down by the army, had raised fears of an escalation in Thailand's long-running political crisis.

However, PAD supporters stayed off the streets of Bangkok, where the red-shirted backers of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had besieged Government House in a bid to force Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva from power.

The political unrest has badly damaged the key tourism industry, adding to the economy's woes as demand for Thai exports continues to fall due to the global downturn.

The latest figures from the Bank of Thailand on Thursday showed industrial output, exports and imports plunged again in March. Economists said the economy probably shrank more than 5 percent in the first quarter from a year before. [nBKK139365]

The extra-parliamentary PAD led a street campaign against Thaksin before he was ousted in a bloodless 2006 coup. It then occupied Bangkok's airports last year to protest a pro-Thaksin government that was later dissolved by the courts.

Abhisit was elected in a December parliamentary vote, promising to heal the country's deep political divisions and revive a struggling economy.

But he soon faced protests by the pro-Thaksin United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), which forced the cancellation of a summit of Asian leaders in Thailand last month.

Asked about his political future, Sondhi said he was not opposed to the idea floated by his co-leaders of transforming the PAD into a political party.

It's fine if they want to set up a political party, but the PAD will support Abhisit as prime minister until he completes his term, Sondhi said.