Monday, January 1, 2007

New Year's Eve Blasts in Bangkok .... and they were not Fireworks

A spate of New Year's Eve bombings in Bangkok, including two set off shortly after midnight, killed at least three people and injured 36 others including 10 foreigners, Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin said Monday.

"We still don't know who was behind the bombings," said Apirak, who advised people to stay home unless it was necessary to go out on Monday, a public holiday. The governor said a meeting was scheduled Monday morning with Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont to discuss the attacks.

Altogether seven bombs were detonated in
Bangkok and one in nearby Nonthaburi province on Sunday and early Monday, Aprirak said.

In the first spate of attacks, six bombs and grenades were set off Sunday evening shortly after
6:00 pm, killing two Thais and injuring about 25 people.

Two more bombs were detonated shortly after
midnight near the Central World Plaza department store in Bangkok, where a New Year's count down had been planned but cancelled.

Bangkok authorities issued warnings to revellers to cancel their New Year's Eve celebrations shortly after the first spate of attacks. Public count downs for the New Year were cancelled at Sanam Luang and the Central World Plaza.

A bomb set off minutes after
midnight at the Best Seafood restaurant near Central World Plaza ripped off the leg of one foreigner and injured three others along with two Thais.

A second bomb was detonated at Central World Plaza near the spot where a the New Year's Eve Bangkok Countdown 2007 public party had been scheduled, but was cancelled by Mr Apirak.

Authorities said the second explosion wounded both foreigners and Thais passing by, killing one person.

Two other bombs were reportedly defused by police before they exploded, including one at a bar on
Khao San Road, the capital's most popular place for budget travellers.

The six bombs that went off earlier Sunday after
6 pm (1100 GMT) were placed at busy Victory Monument, near a Chinese temple in Klong Toey, two police traffic box at Sukhumwit Soi 62 and another in Nonthaburi, behind the Seacon Square shopping mall in Eastern Bangkok and at a Tesco supermarket.

Initial speculation was that the bombs were the work of groups opposed to the current military-installed government after a junta ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Sept 19.

Thailand is undergoing a difficult return to democratic government after the popular, but allegedly corrupt, former premier Thaksin was ousted by the military. Thaksin, a billionaire businessman who held the premiership between 2001 and 2006, is in exile.

Several powerful groups, including the supporters of Thaksin, are unhappy over what they see as the military's high-handed action and the ongoing investigations into allegedly corrupt deals perpetrated by Thaksin's family and political associates.

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