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Thais step up security after blasts in Bangkok

TURBULENT TIMES: Forensic policemen investigating the site of two small explosions on a walkway leading to the Siam Paragon mall yesterday. Two people were slightly hurt, but the blasts on Sunday evening caused little damage.


    Feb 03, 2015

    Thais step up security after blasts in Bangkok


    THAI Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered security to be tightened in Bangkok yesterday, after two small bombs rattled a luxury shopping mall and stoked tension in a city under martial law since a coup in May.

    Two people were slightly hurt, but the blasts on Sunday evening caused little damage.

    They were the first to shake the capital since the military seized power to end months of sometimes deadly street protests.

    "I have ordered security to be tightened, because this case involves the well-being of the people," General Prayut told reporters. "This case shows that we still need martial law...There are still bad people disrupting the peace. We must find ways to severely punish them."

    There was no claim of responsibility.

    A team of forensic police officers yesterday sifted through the debris created by the blasts, which struck at around 8pm local time on Sunday on a walkway leading to the busy Siam Paragon shopping centre.

    "They were pipe bombs...low-pressure explosive devices," national police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri told reporters. "They did not aim to cause major damage...they were used to create trouble."

    The bombs were behind power transformers on the walkway linking an overhead rail line to the Siam Paragon mall, the police said.

    Closed-circuit television footage showed two possible suspects near where the bombs exploded, but the images were unclear and they had not been identified, the police added.

    Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said such violence "inflicts loss of confidence" in the country. Tourism accounts for about 10 per cent of Thailand's economy.

    The authorities declined to speculate whether the blasts were linked to the nation's turbulent politics.

    But General Prawit warned that the public would face stepped-up security.

    "We will strictly enforce security across the country. We need to have high-security checks in some areas," he told reporters.

    "We can't say who is behind could be people who have bad intentions, or are linked to politics or people who think differently," he added, without elaborating.

    Political tension has been high since last month, when a national assembly hand-picked by the junta banned former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra from politics for five years.

    The decision angered supporters of Ms Yingluck and her self-exiled brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, although there has been little sign of a return to the protests that have dogged Thailand for years. The military has been tough on dissent since the coup.

    Thailand has weathered turbulent politics for a decade, as former telecommunications tycoon Thaksin and his allies have vied for power with the Bangkok-based royalist-military establishment that sees the Shinawatras as a threat and reviles their populist policies.

    The occasional detonation of crude bombs similar to those used on Sunday kept the capital on edge for months after a 2010 crackdown.