The government yesterday dismissed Thai police officials’ claims that Cambodian nationals were involved in a supposed plot to assassinate Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
On Thursday, the Thai government released a statement saying that Thai police were trailing a group of “black-clad men” who they believed were planning an attack on the Thai premier. The statement also said that one “highly-skilled” suspect had undergone weapons training in Cambodia.
Thai media reports went further, with The Nation newspaper quoting a former Thai defense official, Admiral Bannawit Kengrien, who said he had heard the so-called assassination plot involved “a large number of Cambodian warriors of Vietnamese descent, who had undergone military training and were great snipers.”
Yesterday, however, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan rejected the claims as “propaganda.”
“This is propaganda…being used to discredit Cambodia as a ‘state of terrorists,'” Mr Siphan said. “It is harassment towards Cambodia. We reject it and think it is a joke.”
Mr Siphan said it was surprising that Thai officials had made the remarks about Cambodian involvement in an alleged assassination plot just weeks after Thai government officials met with Information Minister Khieu Kanharith in Phnom Penh to discuss how to prevent misinformation from being published in the media.
Officials at the Thai Foreign Ministry were unavailable yesterday. Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday that the Thai government had not contacted Cambodia to discuss the latest intelligence about the alleged assassination plot.
Similar claims about Cambodian involvement in terrorism in Thailand arose during the “red shirt” protests in Bangkok in April and May. One Cambodian, 27-year-old San Monyphet, was arrested during the final stages of the protest in mid-May.
Mr Kuong said yesterday that the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok was in regular contact with Mr Monyphet, who was still being held in detention.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is due to meet with Mr Abhisit on the sidelines of the US-Asean leaders meeting in New York on Friday.