A number of seemingly coordinated explosions across Thailand have killed at least four people and wounded about 20 more, says the Watertown Public Opinion. Among the injured are 10 foreigners hailing from Germany, Italy, Austria, and the Netherlands among others. All the explosions occurred to the South of Bangkok, and several appeared to be aimed at Thailand’s lucrative tourist industry, specifically those in the tourist resort Phuket and the seaside resort town of Hua Hin. Police say that although they are unsure of who is responsible for the Thailand bombings, no links to Islamic terrorism are suspected. “We are sure that it is not linked to terrorism,” said Royal Thai Police official Col. Krisana Patanacharoen.
The timing seems to suggest the bombs were planted by rivals of the ruling military force, which recently organized a referendum, the results of which are likely to strengthen the military’s control for a substantial period of time.
Since the military coup in 2014, Thailand’s economy has slumped with tourism being one of the few saving graces. Last year, 12.5 million people visited the country and to date this year over 14 million people have chosen it as their destination.
The tourist city of Hua Hin was shaken by two explosions on Thursday and another on Friday morning. The city houses a royal palace and a string of resorts. More bombings were reported from the cities of Phuket, Trang and Surat Thani.
One tourist, Shane Brett, said that after the first explosion that killed a Thai woman and injured around 20 more people, the area was strewn with panic. “I was at a bar in the main bar district in Hua Hin right outside the Hilton Hotel and at first I heard kind of a bang… and everyone kind of panicked,” he said. He looked outside and saw people running, and as he made his way back to his hotel, he said he saw a number of injured people and everybody panicking. “The whole area was just shut down with police cars, ambulances.”
The first bombs on Thursday were set off within 30 minutes of each other by remote control, says Police Gen. Sithichai Srisopacharoenrath, Hua Hin’s superintendent of police. According to Srisopacharoenrath, both devices were concealed in plants in an area rife with entertainment venues, restaurants and street vendors frequented by tourists and locals alike. A Samsung cell phone believed to be a detonating device was recovered, he said.
Thai media reported that the fatality in Thursday’s explosion was a female street vendor. Among the injured were 10 foreigners.
Earlier on Thursday, in the province of Trang, in southern Thailand, another device was detonated, killing one person and injuring six. This took place in an area where a small Muslim radical uprising has claimed the lives of over 5,000 people since 2004.
The country has been in political turmoil since a military coup in 2006 which ousted Thaksin Shinawatra as prime minister after he was accused of corruption, abuse of power and insulting the King. This event sparked bloody clashes between his supporters and those opposing him. His successor and sister, who became prime minister in 2011, was overthrown by the military coup in 2014.
Junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha took credit for the state of stability and peace after the prolonged unrest in Thailand in a speech on Wednesday evening. He also expressed his remorse over the bombings in Hua Hin, and said he had ordered police and security forces to take increased security measures in the area.
With today’s bombings taking place on the birthday of Queen Sirikit, the junta has reiterated its commitment to making the defense of the monarchy its top priority and are dead set on guaranteeing a smooth succession for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest ruling sovereign.
[Charles Dharapak/AP Photo]