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Thai 'Yellow Shirt' Leader Released from Hospital


The founder of Thailand's "Yellow Shirt" political protest movement was released from a hospital under tight security Saturday, just over a week after he was wounded in an assassination attempt.

Television footage showed media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul leaving Bangkok's Chulalongkorn hospital surrounded by police and supporters before being driven off to his house.

Sondhi led a crippling blockade that shut down Bangkok's two airports for eight days in November and December in a bid to oust the government allied with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Sondhi was ambushed on his way to work on April 17 by men firing assault rifles. He was hospitalized with bullet shards in his skull. His supporters blame security forces for the assassination attempt.

On Friday, Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva lifted a state of emergency and expressed hope for reconciliation following violent street protests against his government.

Mr. Abhisit told a special session of parliament that the state of emergency was lifted to show the world Thailand has returned to normal.

Still, Mr. Abhisit says troops will remain deployed in the streets as anti-government protesters say they plan to hold a peaceful rally in Bangkok Saturday.

Thailand declared a state of emergency on April 12 as rioting and protests began to escalate. At their peak, violent clashes in Bangkok killed two people and injured more than 100 others.

Thailand held its special parliamentary session this week to try to find ways to heal the bitter political divide between Mr. Abhisit and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin.

The red shirt protesters claim Mr. Abhisit, who was appointed by parliament in December, came to power illegitimately after court rulings removed two Thaksin-allied governments from power. Protesters want Mr. Abhisit to step down and hold fresh elections.

Mr. Thaksin's whereabouts continue to dominate headlines in Thailand, where the government is trying to extradite him on corruption charges. The former prime minister was in Liberia this week to explore investment opportunities in the West African country's mining sector.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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