x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Fatal Bangkok bomb 'designed to create disorder'

A bomb in central Bangkok that killed one person and wounded 10 was intended to create disorder for political gain, police say.

Thai bomb squad experts inspect the site of a bomb blast in front of a convenience store on Ratchadamri Road, Bangkok.
Thai bomb squad experts inspect the site of a bomb blast in front of a convenience store on Ratchadamri Road, Bangkok.

A bomb in central Bangkok yesterday that killed one person and wounded 10 was designed to create disorder for political gain, police said today. The blast came two months after deadly opposition protests rocked the city and hours after polls closed in a crucial Bangkok by-election, with initial results suggesting a leader of the "Red Shirt" anti-government movement had lost to a member of the elite-backed ruling party.

The bomb exploded at a bus stop in the same commercial district occupied by the Red Shirts during their two-month-long mass rally, which ended with an army crackdown in May. Police General Panupong Singhara Na Ayutthaya said they were investigating CCTV images of a man who may be a suspect, adding that the culprits probably aimed "to create disorder for political gain". The blast followed a parliamentary race in a Bangkok suburb, seen as a litmus test of public opinion following the civil unrest, which a Red Shirt leader now detained on terrorism charges appeared to have lost.

Initial results from the Election Commission showed Kokaew Pikulthong, who stood for the opposition Puea Thai (For Thais) party but was not allowed out of jail to campaign, was beaten by the ruling Democrat party candidate, Panich Vikitsreth. A Puea Thai spokesman accused government supporters of setting off the bomb, which shattered an uneasy calm in the capital since the army crushed the Red Shirts' mass protests.

"I believe a bomb came from a group who support the government and want the emergency rule to be maintained," spokesman Pormpong Nopparit said. "This group wants political gain from maintaining emergency rule, while many people in this society want the state of emergency to be revoked," he said. The government has come under pressure from the United States and rights groups to end a state of emergency still in place across one fifth of the country.

Authorities have used the powers, introduced in Bangkok on April 7, to arrest hundreds of Red Shirt suspects and silence anti-government media. The protests by the Reds, many of whom back the fugitive ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, attracted up to 100,000 people demanding immediate elections. Ninety people died and about 1,900 were injured in a series of street clashes between armed troops and demonstrators.

* AFP