Seven people, including a 12-year-old Thai-Italian girl, were slightly injured when a car bomb exploded late Friday night at a shopping mall on the southern island of Koh Samui. All of the wounded were later discharged from hospital with only minor injuries.
The 10.30 p.m. blast at the Central Festival Samui mall at the tourist island’s Chaweng Beach, which was just about to close, also damaged 10 cars and other properties at the mall.
The Mazda pickup that was used in the attack had been parked at the underground car park and was completely damaged. The car had been stolen by eight robbers in the southern province of Yala at the end of last month, initially leading investigators to suspect that the blast was linked to the insurgency in the three southern border provinces.
Authorities, however, quickly steered the speculation in another, politically more “palatable” direction and pointed out alleged similarities with explosions in Bangkok earlier this year, insinuating that the bombing may have been a “paid job” masterminded by opponents of the military government. This is mainly because attacks by insurgents outside the three southernmost provinces are extremely rare.
But there’s another reason. As the Bangkok Post notes, the blast took place just half an hour
after a major fire began on the Surat Thani mainland on Friday night. The blaze caused 50 million baht in damage to the Surat Thani Cooperative founded by politician-turned-monk Suthep Thaugsuban. Mr Suthep led the anti-government protests that culminated in the military coup last May.
A spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) speculated that the bombers might be
members of a violent group in the southern border provinces or experienced car bomb makers in the southern border provinces and they were hired by some party for another purpose.
Yet other theories have it that the bombing may have been motivated by “a local business or political conflict”, or that politicians “with significant influence in the South” may have been responsible for the blast.