16 dead in bomb-hit cen­tral Bangkok

At least 3 ROC na­tion­als hurt in blast, says MOFA

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY AI­DAN JONES BY ALAN FONG AND JOSEPH YEH

At least 16 peo­ple were killed and many in­jured when a bomb ex­ploded Mon­day out­side a pop­u­lar re­li­gious shrine in Bangkok, scat­ter­ing body parts and de­bris across the city’s com­mer­cial core.

The blast hit at around 6:30 p.m. when the street­side shrine was packed with wor­ship­pers and tourists — although it was not pos­si­ble im­me­di­ately to con­firm if for­eign­ers were among the ca­su­al­ties.

There were media re­ports later of a sec­ond de­vice be­ing de­fused in the area but no im­me­di­ate of­fi­cial con­fir­ma­tion.

"The death toll is now 16," po­lice spokesman Prawut Tha­vorn­siri told AFP, while an emer­gency med­i­cal cen­ter said more than 80 peo­ple were in­jured in the mas­sive blast.

Glass was strewn across the street af­ter the ex­plo­sion out­side the Erawan Shrine in the cen­tral Chid­lom dis­trict, an AFP re­porter wit­nessed.

Charred and shat­tered mo­tor­cy­cles lit­tered the scene, along with hunks of con­crete from the shrine, with pools of blood on the pave­ment and bod­ies cov­ered by white sheets.

“It was a bomb, I think it was in­side a mo­tor­cy­cle... it was very big, look at the bod­ies,” one res­cue vol­un­teer, who did not want to be named, told AFP.

Bomber Used TNT, Tar­geted For­eign­ers: Thai De­fense Min­is­ter

While there was no im­me­di­ate claim of re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, sus­pi­cion was likely to fall on the king­dom’s ri­val po­lit­i­cal fac­tions.

Thai­land has been seared by a near-decade of po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence that has left the coun­try deeply di­vided and seen re­peated rounds of deadly street protests and bomb­ings — but none on Mon­day’s scale.

Many observers had pre­dicted a fresh round of vi­o­lence af­ter the mil­i­tary seized power in a coup in May last year, top­pling a civil­ian gov­ern­ment led by Yingluck Shi­nawa­tra.

At least three Tai­wanese tourists were in­jured in the ex­plo­sion near a tourist hotspot in Bangkok yesterday, the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs (MOFA) said.

Ac­cord­ing to the Taipei Eco­nomic and Cul­tural Of­fice in Thai­land, the of­fi­cial of­fice which rep­re­sents Tai­wan in the South­east Asian coun­try, the three were sent to the hos­pi­tal for treat­ment, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment is­sued by the MOFA late yesterday. The MOFA did not iden­tify the in­jured or give fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on their in­juries.

The Thai­land Of­fice has sent rep­re­sen­ta­tives to the hos­pi­tal to pro­vide help. The of­fice said its will keep close con­tract with lo­cal author­i­ties in or­der to bet­ter the sit­u­a­tion and to pro­vide timely as­sis­tance if other Tai­wanese na­tion­als were found to be in­jured.

Thai­land’s de­fense min­is­ter said the bombers had tar­geted “for­eign­ers” to try to dam­age the tourist in­dus­try, which is a rare bright spot in an oth­er­wise gloomy econ­omy.

“It was a TNT bomb ... the peo­ple who did it tar­geted for­eign­ers and to dam­age tourism and the econ­omy,” said Prawit Wong­su­wong, a for­mer gen­eral who is be­lieved to have been one of the key coup-mak­ers.

AFP

Thai res­cue work­ers help the in­jured af­ter a bomb ex­ploded out­side a re­li­gious shrine in cen­tral Bangkok late on Mon­day, Aug. 17, killing at least 10 peo­ple and wound­ing scores more.

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