Four people were killed and dozens injured, including 10 foreign tourists, in a wave of coordinated twin bomb attacks across the south of Thailand Thursday night and Friday morning.
Targeted tourist destinations inluded Hua Hin, Phuket and Surat Thani. Several arson attacks were also reported across the southern provinces.
One bomb reportedly went off outside a bar in a popular tourist area of Hua Hin Thursday night. According to police, 10 foreigners were among the injured, including Germans, Dutch, Italians, and one Austrian. Fortunately though, no mass casualties were inflicted in the attacks, which each consisted of two bombs exploding within less than 30 minutes in the same location.
While security has been tightened across all of Thailand’s 76 provinces, apparently including Pattaya, several foreign embassies have warned their citizens to exercise extreme caution and avoid public places.
The presumably “politically motivated” attacks came at the beginning of a long weekend vacation marking Her Majesty the Queen’s Birthday and following last weekend’s controversial charter referendum.
There have been conflicting reports on whether arrests have been made or not in connection with the attacks. The government however appears to rule out a link to international terrorism and insurgent groups in the Deep South and alleges instead the bombings were connected to the referendum and blames “bad people” who want to hurt the country’s tourism industry.
Critics say the constitution a majority of Thai voters approved last Sunday was undemocratic and designed to ensure prolonged military control of the politically divided nation.
Khaosod English have more details on the attacks here and report that “tourists, markets and government sites” were apparently targeted by the bombings. The Bangkok Post also has a timeline of the attacks.
As of Friday night, no further explosions were reported across the country and – while authorities are obviously on high alert and security has been beefed up considerably (including an unusual high number of checkpoints around town, even given it’s a Friday night) – the situation in Pattaya is pretty much “business as usual.”
UPDATE (August 16) – Other than initially suspected by authorities it appears now that the attacks were indeed carried out by Muslim insurgents from the Deep South but the plot, investigators allege, was “engineered by a prominent political figure in the restive region.” The motives and details remain unclear though.