Bangkok - Nine bombs exploded across Bangkok as the Thai capital celebrated
the New Year, killing two people and driving thousands of revelers home after
the city was forced to cancel festivities.
Hospital staff and officials said 34 people were injured, at least six of
them foreigners including one American.
There were two waves of bombings. Six nearly simultaneous explosions late
Sunday night killed at least two people and injured 26. Some initially mistook
the sound of the bombs for fireworks.
Bangkok Mayor Apirak Kosayothin canceled major public celebrations and sent
home about 5,000 gathered in Central World Plaza, the downtown venue for
Bangkok's main New Year countdown party.
After midnight, three more bombs went off near the same plaza, iTV television
reported. Eight people were injured in the later blasts, the report said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings, which capped
a year of unrest in Thailand that included a military coup three months ago and
a mounting Muslim insurgency in its southernmost provinces.
National police chief Gen. Ajirawit Suphanaphesat said he did not believe
insurgents were behind the attacks in Bangkok, a major international banking and
technology hub for Asia.
Police and army troops wielding assault rifles guarded some entertainment
venues, transit stations and busy traffic circles. Roadblocks were up on some
streets, while hotels stepped up security, searching cars and canceling
expensive New Year's Eve dinners.
Major public celebrations were also canceled in the northern city of Chiang
But festivities continued in some areas of Bangkok, including the city's most
famous red light district, Patpong Road, where hundreds of foreign tourists
carried on celebrating. At midnight, fireworks lit up the sky in both Bangkok
and Chiang Mai, with many residents still gathered in the streets of both
Several embassies' Web sites advised their citizens to avoid Bangkok's city
"There is a possibility of further attacks in coming days," said a travel
advisory from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
"Australians are urged to avoid unnecessary travel in Bangkok."
Bomb attacks are rare in the Thai capital.
Following the first wave of bombings, police said two people died at
hospitals. There were also 14 people seriously wounded, said Health Minister
Mongkol Na Songkhla.
"I heard a loud explosion and I thought it was fireworks. I ran there and saw
a bleeding woman at the bus stop," Somrak Manphothong, a receptionist at the
Saxophone bar near site of the first bombings. "Another guy was lying on the
floor, covered with blood, and his wife was shaking his body."
At another site near a vegetable market in the Klong Toey slum, a pool of
blood and egg yolks covered the roadside beside an overturned motorcycle.
The three bombs that exploded just after midnight Monday were in a phone
booth, a hotel, and near a canal bridge in a touristy downtown area packed with
hotels and shopping malls.
The six foreigners were injured in the second set of blasts, according to
officials at the Police Hospital. They said one was an American. Doctors were
trying to save a Hungarian woman's badly injured leg, said hospital spokeswoman
Warin Detkung, denying earlier news reports that both her legs had been blown
In September, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a bloodless
coup by Gen. Sondhi Boonyaratkalin. The military installed Surayud as the
interim prime minister until elections in October 2007.
But Thaksin still enjoys widespread support and a number of arson attacks in
provincial areas have been blamed on his followers.
"There are two potential suspects, Muslim insurgents and Thaksin's residual
power," said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn
University. "I tend to think it's residual power. I suspect the previous
Thaksin's lawyer denied the former prime minister's involvement in the
bombings on the Web site of the newspaper Matichon.
Bombings and shootings occur almost daily in Thailand's three southernmost
provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani, where an Islamic insurgency that
flared in January 2004 has killed more than 1,900 people.
Muslims make up the majority in overwhelmingly Buddhist Thailand's deep
south, where they have long complained of discrimination.
The insurgents have carried out numerous attacks in the south, but are not
known to have launched any in Bangkok.