RM7.6mil bounty on Thaksin's head

BANGKOK: A powerful ethnic Wa drug lord in Myanmar has offered nearly US$2mil (RM7.6mil) to have Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra killed, one of Thaksin's deputies said yesterday. 

Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said there was “reliable” intelligence that Bao Youxiang, commander of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) aligned with Yangon, was responsible for putting a bounty on Thaksin's head. 

“I have obtained a report which is likely reliable and confirmed,” Chavalit said at Government House. 

“Everybody knows these (drug) gangs have influence and money and are ready to spend that money to get rid of anyone who hampers their ways,” he said. 

Chavalit was responding to queries about a report in Thai-language newspaper Matichon, which cited a police report as saying the UWSA's Bao Youxiang and Wei Hsueh-kang, a Chinese Wa with Thai citizenship who fled to Myanmar, issued the death order because of billions of baht in losses from the war on drugs. 

The billionaire premier himself has said drug gang members put the price on his head at 80mil baht (RM7.1mil) after his administration declared a brutal war on drugs that has seen trafficking slow to a trickle since the campaign was launched Feb 1. 

The government has dismissed opposition claims that the bounty was fabricated or a diversionary tactic to draw attention away from the alarming toll of nearly 1,500 drug-related deaths since the crackdown began. 

Chavalit, the deputy premier responsible for security, said drug kingpins posted the brazen bounty out of frustration that the drugs war was leading to severe losses in their trade. – AFP  

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