|By Chadamas Chinmaneevong, Bangkok Post,
ThailandMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 18, 2010 --Executives at the Dusit Thani Bangkok Hotel are in shock after the hotel was targeted in a grenade attack that is believed to be linked to suspicions that Maj Gen Khattiya Sawasdipol, a red-shirt leader, was fatally shot by a sniper who was hiding in the property.
Both the allegations and the attacks have shocked hotel staff and executives.
Grenades fired from an M79 launcher hit the five-star hotel late on Sunday night. The blasts sparked off fires on the 14th and 22nd floors when they exploded.
The property is located on Silom and Rama IV roads, an area which has seen heavy fighting between armed troops and red-shirt protesters over the past few days.
"We are hopeless in the current situation," said Chanin Donavanik, chief executive of listed company Dusit Thani Plc. "The Dusit Thani was fired upon twice, and no one came to protect us."
The attack on the Dusit Thani may have been motivated by rumours that it was a sniper positioned in the hotel who shot Maj Gen Khattiya, also known as Seh Daeng, last Thursday night just moments after giving an interview to journalists from the protest camp outside Lumpini Park. Maj Gen Khattiya died from his head wound yesterday.
"There were rumours that the sniper attack came from the hotel. So we have now become a target," Mr Chanin said.
He dismissed rumours that the hotel was being used as a base for attacks on the red-shirt encampment, located across the road.
Most windows of the 40-year-old hotel cannot be opened, Mr Chanin said.
The hotel has also been closed to the public since the red-shirts barricaded the front of Lumpini Park and took control of Ratchadamri Road earlier this month.
Mr Chanin said most guests and staff have been evacuated from the hotel, with only a handful of foreign journalists still in residence. The hotel has moved most of the guests from the rooms to the basement for safety reasons.
He said there were no injuries from the attack which caused superficial damage to the property's exterior.
"We are extremely saddened by the situation," Mr Chanin said. "We have not, and do not, condone the use of our premises for any acts of violence, and we can assure you that the reports of such activity from the Dusit Thani Bangkok are completely false. The matter is now under police investigation."
Mr Chanin estimated that the hotel has suffered lost revenues and damages of 100 million baht to date due to the political conflicts.
Dusit Thani Plc last year posted a net loss of 107.9 million baht compared with profits of 216.6 million the year before, attributed to the decline in the country's tourism sector as a result of the political conflicts. Revenues last year stood at 2.77 billion baht, down 13% from the year before.
Dusit Thani Bangkok is the group's flagship property, which includes a network of two dozen hotels across Thailand, the Philippines and the Middle East.
Shares of DTC on the Stock Exchange of Thailand closed yesterday at 27 baht, unchanged, in trade worth 238,000 baht.
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