Thai junta ap­peals for calm after car bomb plot alert

The Myanmar Times - - World -

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. –

Photo: EPA

Prayut Chan-O-cha says an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is un­der way.

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