Thai junta appeals for calm after car bomb plot alert
THAILAND’S junta chief appealed for calm yesterday after police warned of a plot to target Bangkok with car bombs, sparking a security alert across the capital including at airports.
An unusually detailed police memo was handed to reporters on October 10 warning that an unidentified group was planning to target Bangkok between October 25 and 30.
The memo said “areas such as malls, car parks and tourist attractions” were at risk and ordered police to be extra-vigilant.
In the last year Thailand has been rocked by blasts hitting its crucial tourist sector, a rare bright spot in an otherwise lacklustre economy.
The junta has refused to label the assaults terrorist attacks and has played down suggestions tourists are being deliberately targeted.
“Let officials carry out their jobs and please be confident in their work,” Prime Minister Prayut ChanO-cha, who seized power in 2014, told reporters.
He said the the bomb plot was an “ongoing warning” and an investigation was under way but warned people not to panic.
For more than a decade Thailand has had a notoriously turbulent domestic political scene and a festering Muslim Malay insurgency in its far south.
But until recently foreigners had largely avoided being caught up in the violence. That appears to be changing. In early August coordinated blasts struck multiple places in Thailand’s tourist-popular south, killing four Thais and wounding dozens including foreign visitors.
A year earlier a bomb tore through a Bangkok shrine popular with Chinese visitors, killing 20 and wounding more than 100.
Most of the victims were ethnic Chinese overseas visitors.
Both attacks were followed by confusing and contradictory statements from auA
thorities, with military leaders initially keen to blame domestic political opponents.
But as investigations progressed, clearer motives emerged.
Police believe the multiple bomb attacks in August were carried out by Muslims from the “Deep South”.
Shadowy militants have waged a 12-year fight there for more autonomy but rarely attack targets outside of the three southern provinces.
October 25 is also the anniversary of 2004’s “Tak Bai incident”, when more than 80 people in the deep south died, most of them protesters crushed to death in overloaded vans after they were arrested. –
Prayut Chan-O-cha says an investigation is under way.