Bombings reported in Bangkok

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Victory Monument, the scene of one of the blasts

At least seven bomb blasts occurred early on New Year's Eve in Bangkok. Two people were killed and dozens injured.

Four explosions went off almost simultaneously in different parts of Thailand's capital city, at around 6:00 p.m. local time (1100 GMT).

The first blast was in a bus-stop shelter at Victory Monument, which is a busy hub for public transportation. Another blast occurred nearby. Five people were injured, and one of them died later at a hospital.

Another fatal attack was in the Khlong Toei port district near the Na Ranong intersection, where a bomb hidden in a trash can near a Chinese spirit shrine exploded and injured seven people, one of them a 10-year-old girl. Another was a 61-year-old man who later died at a hospital. The blast caused a secondary explosion to some nearby cooking-gas cylinders.

Seventeen people were wounded in a blast at a police box near a Big C supermarket at the Saphan Kwai intersection. A witness there said a man dropped a grenade from a pedestrian bridge.

Another blast was at a police box on Sukhumvit Soi 62. There were no injuries.

A blast was reported at a police box in Nonthaburi Province on the northern outskirts of Bangkok. There was another explosion at a Tesco Lotus store in Prachachuen, while another was planted in a trash bin at Seacon Square, a shopping mall in suburban Bangkok's Prawet district. A bomb squad was able to defuse the device without mishap.

Other suspicious packages are being investigated by police at locations throughout the capital, the iTV network in Thailand has reported. The New Year's countdown at CentralWorld was held at around 9:00 p.m. with police and Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayothin then urging the thousands of gathered revelers to "go home and stay in peace."

The attacks are unprecedented in Bangkok. However, Thailand has had a turbulent year, with a coup d'état on September 19 in which the military ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Since then, there have been a number of schools burnt by suspected Thaksin sympathizers in various parts of the country.

There is also the ongoing violence by Muslim separatists in the South Thailand insurgency, which has left 1,900 people dead since 2004.

It was not immediately clear if the bombings had anything to do with the coup or the southern insurgency.