A series of bomb explosions on Thursday and Friday has rocked several cities of southern Thailand, leaving four dead and dozens injured. Authorities say that nobody has yet claimed responsibility for these seemingly coordinated attacks.
The bombings began when the province of Trang, 850 kilometers south of Bangkok, was hit on Thursday evening, killing one person and injuring six others.
Then, on the same night, Hua Hin, a popular tourist-destination located some 120 miles south of Bangkok, was left reeling as two blasts in the span of 20 minutes took the life of a female street-food vendor and injured at least 20, of which three are serious. A third explosion hit the city less than 12 hours later and left one dead and three more wounded. The injured civilians were German, Dutch, Italian and Austrian citizens, according to AFP.
Two more bombings, around 200 meters and 30 minutes apart, hit Surat Thani on Friday morning. The bombs exploded outside police stations, killing a person and injuring several others. The city, though not a touristic hotspot in itself, is a busy transit nevertheless for those heading towards the popular resort islands of Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan.
The famed island of Phuket, with approximately five million tourists visiting every year, was next. Around 9 a.m. local time at a resort near Patong Beach, another two bombings left a taxi driver injured, reports Sky News.
There have been further reports of bombings 200 kilometers north at a marketplace in Takua Pa of the Phang Nga province.
While no one has yet claimed responsibility for these attacks, according to the Associated Press, the timing of these bombings suggest that they might have been carried out to embarrass the junta government, Time reports. Thai police Colonel Krisana Patanacharoen said that while they were working to find out who were behind the bombings, “we are sure that it is not linked to terrorism,” AP reports.
Since the military government took power in a coup two years ago, Thailand has been on a constant political turmoil. Less than a week ago in a nation-wide referendum, Thais voted in favor of a military-backed constitution. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had given a speech where he took credit for bringing stability to the country after a longstanding period of unrest.
After the attacks, the premier told the reporters that “the bombs are an attempt to create chaos and confusion.”
“Right now, we have to focus on not creating panic among the people and restoring law and order,” he said.
“These attacks are aimed at creating unrest in the country,” Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters on Friday morning.
“We do not know at this time if it is politically motivated but we will catch (the perpetrators).”
The latest bombings mark the anniversary of a devastating explosion at Erawan Shrine, a Hindu site and touristic attraction in Bangkok, which left some 20 dead and injured more than 100 others. Though nobody had taken responsibility for the attack, Thai authorities placed blame on two ethnic Uighur Muslims, according to Yahoo! News.
The first explosions also occurred on the eve of Queen Sirikit’s birthday, also declared as the country’s Mother’s Day, in Hua Hin where she, along with King Bhumibol Adulyadej, resides in the Klai Kangwon Palace, which translates as “Far from Worries Palace.”
The health of the 88-year old king, also the longest reigning monarch, who is recovering from an infection, is a matter of political concern in Thailand. The military junta has established that defending the monarchy is its priority, especially as there are tensions regarding his succession.
Bomb attacks and shootings are relatively commonplace in Thailand, especially in the southern provinces with Muslim-majority, where more than 6,500 people have died since 2004 because of separatist insurgency.
[Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images]