Thai Commandos Search for Thaksin as His Plane Returns

A column of tanks guard a highway in suburban Bangkok, September 21, 2006 (AFP Photo)

The Thai Airways jet that ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra took to New York was forced to land Thursday at Bangkok's military airport and was searched by army commandos, officials and witnesses said.

Thailand's military ousted Thaksin late Tuesday in a bloodless coup while he was attending the UN General Assembly.

The billionaire politician flew to London, where he has a home, and the plane then returned to Bangkok with the press corps and some low-ranking officials who had travelled with him.

One of Thaksin's aides on the plane said the heavily armed commandos were searching the plane to make sure the deposed premier was not trying to sneak back into the country.

"The commandos are not questioning anybody but they have conducted a thorough search," one of the journalists said.

The flight was supposed to land at Bangkok's commercial airport at 12:40 pm (0540 GMT), but it was diverted to the nearby military airport where 10 commandos inspected the plane.

About 20 journalists and officials were on the flight, but top members of Thaksin's cabinet -- including foreign minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon and government spokesman Surapong Suebwonglee -- did not return to Bangkok.

Officials said Kantathi had gone to Paris, where he has an apartment, while Surapong stayed in New York.

Source: AFP

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