Security heightened after "coordinated" bomb attacks in Thailand

Security was increased at key locations in Thailand Friday after a series of bomb attacks in central and southern areas killed at least four people and injured many more, including foreigners.

The junta instructed security personnel to increase vigilance ahead of Queen Sirikit of Thailand's birthday celebrations on Friday, spokesman Winthai Suvaree said.

"We will not let people with bad intentions towards the country dictate the situation," Winthai told reporters. "Ask yourself who would want to hurt the country like this?"

The heightened security came after six bomb attacks targeted tourist destinations and government buildings across five provinces in less than 24 hours. 

More than 20 people were injured, including several Germans, Dutch and Italian nationals, as well as another casualty from Austria.

All those wounded were taken to hospital in Hua Hin, a seaside resort also well known as the location of the Thai royal family's summer palace.

The attacks were not "terrorism-related," police said. 

"Thailand has no territorial or religious quarrel with anyone. This is not an act of terrorism but an act of local sabotage," said police spokesman Piyaphan Phingmuang. 

Two explosions hit the southern province of Surat Thani around 8 am local time (0100 GMT) on Friday, one in front of the provincial police station and another in front of the maritime police station.

Another bomb attack hit the tourist resort of Phuket around 9 am. The explosion occurred near Patong beach, which is popular with foreign tourists. The blast injured one taxi driver.

A third bomb attack targeted a tourist area in southern Phang Nga province but no one was injured in the blast. 

One person was killed and three more were injured in a bomb attack around 9 am in the seaside resort of Hua Hin, about 200 kilometres south-west of Bangkok. 

The incident occurred less than 12 hours after a separate bomb attack in the same city killed one person and injured 20 more. 

The earlier attack in Hua Hin occurred shortly before midnight, killing a Thai vendor, according to local police commander Kasana Jamswang.

"The bombings have the same attack profile," Army General Danai Kritmethavee told reporters. "We believe at this time that this was a coordinated attack." 

"At this time it would be irresponsible to comment on the motive, but we are investigating all possible leads." 

The blasts occurred at an intersection with many bars that are frequented by locals and foreign tourists alike, Wiek said.

One person was killed Thursday evening in a bomb attack in the southern province of Trang, 850 kilometers south of Bangkok

"These attacks are aimed at creating unrest in the country," Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters Friday morning. 

"We do not know at this time if it is politically motivated but we will catch [the perpetrators]." 

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said "we have to focus on not creating panic among the people and restoring law and order." 

It's unclear who was behind the attacks, which come as Thais marked a long weekend to celebrate Queen Sirikit of Thailand's 84th birthday, which falls on the day the country celebrates Mother's day. 

Many Thais either return home or spend the extended break at seaside resorts like Hua Hin, although pictures online suggested that the streets of Hua Hin were empty early Friday.

The blasts came less than a week after a nationwide constitutional referendum by the military government, which saw a military-drafted constitution approved by the populace.

Since 2004, an insurgent movement to create an independent state in Thailand's three southern Muslim-majority provinces has resulted in 6,200 deaths and 11,000 people injured.

While bomb attacks and shootings are mostly localized to the three southern provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani, attacks have been known to spill over to surrounding provinces. 

Last update: Fri, 12/08/2016 - 11:31
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