Bangkok hit with further New Year bomb blasts

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Monday, January 1, 2007

CentralWorld shopping center was the venue for the New Year's Eve Countdown and near the location of two blasts.

More bombs went off just after midnight (0500 GMT) on New Year's Day in Bangkok, injuring eight people near a shopping mall where hours before a New Year's Eve countdown was cancelled due to a string of six bombings earlier in the evening.

The first bomb exploded at a seafood restaurant on the Saen Saeb Canal near Pratunam Pier just seconds after midnight.

Three foreigners and two Thais were injured. One of the foreigners had her legs amputated by the blast, according to television and local newspaper reports. The foreign tourists were having dinner at the restaurant.

Police said the bomb was hidden in a tire at the pier.

A second bomb exploded in a telephone booth near a pedestrian bridge at CentralWorld, where thousands of people had gathered earlier in the evening for a countdown party and had been urged by authorities to leave the area and go home. Several foreigners were injured and rushed to hospitals.

Another bomb was found and disposed of without incident at Suan Lum Night Bazaar, another late-night venue for tourists.

A possible bomb was investigated at Buddy Bar, a popular music venue on Khaosan Road. It turned out to be a false report. Police had earlier closed the venue and other bars on the street frequented by backpackers, urging people to return to their hotels and guesthouses.

Earlier in the evening, bombs had gone off at six locations across the city, from about 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Twenty-five people were injured and three later died at hospitals from their injuries. The biggest toll was at Victory Monument, where 17 people were injured, two of them dying from their injuries. Other targets were a police booth at Saphan Kwai intersection, where two people were injured, and a market in Khlong Toei, where three people were injured, one fatally. At Seacon Square shopping mall, a bomb was found in a trash can inside the mall and taken to the parking lot, where it exploded without injuring anyone. Police booths on Sukhumvit Soi 62 and in suburban Nonthaburi were also hit, but there were no injuries.

After the bombings, Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayothin had ordered the cancellation of the countdown celebrations at Central World and Sanam Luang and other smaller ones.

"Due to several bomb explosions in Bangkok and for the sake of peace and security, I would ask all of you to return to your homes now," Apirak told a crowd of around 5,000 people at CentralWorld. Most of the crowd dispersed quickly and calmly.

Army Commander-in-Chief General Sonthi Boonyaratglin ordered soldiers deployed around the capital. Security was intensified on the Metro and Skytrain rail systems. The Skytrain cancelled plans to run all night and closed at midnight as usual. Department stores closed early.

Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont visited victims at a local hospital. He appeared on television looking tense, telling reporters he didn't know who was responsible for the attacks.

Surayud was appointed premier after a coup d'état on September 19 in which the military led by Sonthi ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The Nation newspaper quoted a "security source" as saying "the old power clique" was behind the bombing.

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

Sources

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