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Phuket Gazette: Americans alerted in update on bomb blast in Bangkok; US Embassy issues warning

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Phuket Gazette: Americans alerted in update on bomb blast in Bangkok; US Embassy issues warning | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

UPDATE: Bomb blast in Bangkok
PHUKET (News Wires): Three explosions, six injured; first one goes off at rented house; UK embassy issues warning; Iranian lobs bomb at taxi, then at police car, loses his legs in blast; another Iranian arrested.

An Iranian man was badly injured and a second Iranian was arrested after a series of grenade attacks that caused panic in the capital and left five bystanders injured yesterday.

A senior official denied any links to terrorism, but police have yet to rule on whether the blasts were part of a terrorist attack, or if they had anything to do with last month’s arrest of a Lebanese man with Swedish nationality in an alleged bomb plot.

“So far, we haven’t found any links between these two cases,” senior police commander Pol General Pansiri Prapawat said.

In related news, the British Embassy in Bangkok issued a travel advisory within hours of the explosions, the first one of which took place at 2pm at a house rented by three Iranians. And BBC reported that the suspect had arrived in Bangkok from Phuket.

Police said that after the first explosion, the three men ran from the house, and one of them, initially identified as Saeid Moradi, tried to hail a taxi. When the taxi did not stop to pick him up, he threw a grenade at it, only to have the grenade bounce back and explode, severing his legs.

Shrapnel wounded five adult passers-by, but did not harm any students at nearby Kasem Phitthaya School.

Police officers provided conflicting reports about the location and sequence of events.

Khlong Tan police chief Sitthipharb Baiprasert said Moradi ran to the front of a school and aimed a grenade at police officers, but ended up bearing the brunt of the blast himself. However, deputy Bangkok police chief Phisit Phisutthisak said the suspect threw the grenade at a taxicab.

Another senior commander, Pol Maj-General Wichai Sangpraphai, was quoted by deputy secretary-general to the PM Thitima Chaisang as saying the suspect was not injured by the grenade he threw at the taxi, but lost one leg and badly injured another when a second grenade aimed at a police vehicle exploded.

A report in the Thai-language Manager website said the suspect tried to slit his own throat with a sharp piece of glass, but was stopped by police.

Doctors at Chulalongkorn Hospital said the suspect had lost his right leg and sustained injuries to an eye and his abdomen. They have also had to amputate his left leg.

“He has serious wounds but he should survive,” deputy hospital director Dr Ratthaphlee Phak-at said.

Police later said they arrested Mohammad Hazaei, 42, one of the Iranian men, at Suvarnabhumi Airport as he was about to board a flight to Kuala Lumpur. He is under interrogation. The third man remains at large.

A search at the rented house turned up an unspecified amount of C-4 explosive and some home-made bombs, Bangkok police chief Pol Lt-General Winai Thongsong said.

In Moradi’s backpack, police found clothing; receipts issued to a Yasef Moradi by a hotel in Pattaya; 8,500 baht and US$2,800 in cash; and a large amount of cash in Iranian currency.

Thitima denied the incidents were acts of terrorism, saying: “This is not sabotage or related to the travel advisories issued [after last month’s terrorism scare] by many countries. Police now know where the [suspect is].

“Intelligence analysis said [the suspects] were arguing with one another, and the incidents are being treated as normal crimes.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Thanee Thongphakdee said an official conclusion on the incidents would be made soon to determine the specific nature of the crimes.

“Don’t jump to the conclusion that it was an act of terrorism,” he said.

A briefing by the National Security Council is being held this morning at Government House.

Thitima said Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had instructed the Foreign Ministry to contact the Iranian Embassy to discuss the issue and obtain details about the three men.

Police last month arrested Atris Hussein, a Lebanese man with Swedish nationality whom they said had ties with Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed group based in Lebanon, and suggested he might have been involved in setting up a terror plot in Thailand. Hezbollah later denied links with Hussein.

Taxi driver Sanchai Bunsoongnern said the suspect had tried many times to hail a taxi but none stopped.

“He threw a grenade at me. It dropped on the hood, fell on the road and rolled underneath my taxi, and went off. I stopped and helped to chase him,” he said.

“A police car then showed up, before the suspect took something out of his pocket, followed by a loud bang, severing his legs. I was 15 metres away from the second blast, and suffered no injuries, but my ears are ringing.”

Americans have been alerted to maintain heightened awareness.

Reuters reports Police General Bansiri Prapapat as saying that, “We discovered the injured man’s passport. It’s an Iranian passport and he entered the country through Phuket and arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport on the 8th of this month.”

US Embassy issues warning

PHUKET (News Wires): The US Embassy in Thailand issued a statement alerting its citizens to maintain a heightened awareness when in public following a series of explosions in Bangkok yesterday.

“Be alert for unattended packages/bags in public and report any suspicious behavior to the nearest law enforcement personnel,” the statement on its website reads.

Americans are urged to to regularly monitor the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website, where current Worldwide Cautions, Travel Alerts, Travel Warnings and health-information can be found.

We encourage you to notify us of your presence in Thailand by enrolling in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Crime

Another drug bust near the Mekong River, 500 kilograms of cannabis seized

Caitlin Ashworth

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Another drug bust near the Mekong River, 500 kilograms of cannabis seized | The Thaiger
PHOTO: MGR Online

In another drug bust in Northeastern province Nakhon Phanom, police arrested a man and seized 500 kilograms of compressed cannabis. Just yesterday, border patrol police in the province seized 920 kilograms of compressed cannabis from a boat on the Mekong River. In both cases, police suspect the cannabis came from Laos, just across the river.

Police say they searched a black Nissan Navara pickup around 1am in the province’s Na Kae district. Police opened the truck’s bed cover and found 12 sacks with 500 packages of dried, compacted cannabis. Each package of cannabis weighed 1 kilogram, similar to the previous bust on the river.

28 year old Saravut Butngam was arrested. Saravut previously worked in construction, but has recently been unemployed. He allegedly told police that a man called him with an opportunity to make 50,000 baht. He was told to drive the pickup truck from a petrol station in the Na Kae district to a specified location in the neighbouring province Sakon Nakhon, police say. From there, another driver would take over.

Border police commander Sippanan Sornkhunkaew says he suspects the cannabis seized in the province was trafficked from Laos across the Mekong River. He says he believes the cannabis was planned to be trafficked to Southern Thailand and then smuggled across the border, possibly to Malaysia.

On Sunday morning, police confiscated 920 kilograms of cannabis from a boat on the Mekong River. When police approached the boat, men jumped off onto a smaller boat and fled the scene. The dried, compacted cannabis was wrapped in 1 kilogram packages.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

How to Wai like a Thai, with Som | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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How to Wai like a Thai, with Som | VIDEO | The Thaiger

The wai, the polite gesture Thais use for greetings, farewells, prayers and even apologies, dates back to the 12th century, where both hands clasped together in front proved that you weren’t holding a weapon. That’s the folklore anyway.

Recently, the greeting has increased in general popularity around the world as a anti-Covid ‘safe’ replacement for the western handshake. So, how, when and with whom should you wai? Here’s a few easy tips to learn how to wai. Today Som teaches us some of the basics of the lovely Thai ‘wai’ (pronounced ‘why’).

As a foreigner you don’t look Thai, dress Thai and you probably can’t eat full-strength Thai curry either. So this means you’re exempt from Thailand’s most nuanced courtesies. There’s a lot of subtlety in the Thai wai so, chances are, you’re not going to get it right. But your best efforts will be appreciated.

How to wai when you’re uncertain? At a minimum, when someone wais to you, return the gesture with a kind smile and an acknowledging nod. In restaurants and shops: You’ll often receive a wai from shop and restaurant staff. It’s not necessary to wai in return to anyone providing you with a service of this nature. Instead, a nice (grateful) smile is plenty. To children / those younger than you:

Also, there’s no need to wai to a child or anyone who’s clearly younger than you – so, baby boomers, you’re increasingly in the clear! The wai is a mark of respect to elders.

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Bangkok

Thailand News Today | Bangkok protest fallout, northern fire bans | March 1

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today | Bangkok protest fallout, northern fire bans | March 1 | The Thaiger

Coming up today… the fallout from yesterday’s latest protest violence in Bangkok, the first vaccine in Thailand who got it, and a major drug haul along the Mekong.

But first we’ll start up north where Lampang Province is joining other northern provinces todday by putting a total fire ban in place from today, March 1, until the end of April. Chiang Mai also started a ban on all deliberately lit fires from today and Lamphun, just south of Chiang Mai, already has one in place.

The bans are timely after a horrid weekend of air pollution in many of Thailand’s provinces over the long weekend, even as far south as the tourist destination of Phuket where visibility was down to about 1 kilometre and the smell of smoke was noticeable.

Whilst up in the north… 4 Thai women were arrested at a security checkpoint in Tak’s Mae Sot district after they illegally crossed the border from Myanmar into Thailand.

Illegal casinos and fancy hi-so massage parlours in Myanmar in areas near the border, have attracted wealthy Thais and Burmese. The establishments have also attracted plenty of Thais looking for well-paid work across the border.

In a major bust along the Mekong River, a notorious hotzone for drug trafficking, border patrol police seized 920 kilograms of dried, compacted cannabis from a boat along the Nakhon Pathom riverbank, bordering Laos.

Now to the weekend violence as the protests resume where they left off last year…

At least 22 people were arrested during the major Bangkok protest yesterday. It turned violent as pro-democracy activists marched toward the Thai PM’s residence. It’s been reported that one officer died during the rally, reportedly due to heart failure.

At least 33 people were injured… that includes 23 police officers. The clashes happened in front of 1st Infantry Regiment barracks on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road and involved around 1,500-2,000 activists fromthe Restart Democracy movement, part of the Free Youth group. The group has been protesting against the government and calling for reform of the country’s constitution and monarchy since protests began in July of last year.

And Thailand’s Covid-19 vaccine campaign started with Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul who received the first of China’s Sinovac vaccine yesterday. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha was initially planned to be the first to kick off Thailand’s immunisation plan with the AstraZeneca vaccine, but due to problems with paperwork, the PM’s injection was postponed.

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