BANGKOK (The Nation): Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont has asked people to refrain from joining crowded new year parties following at least seven bomb attacks in Bangkok.
The premier has ordered all security officers – police and soldiers – to reinforce security in many areas in the capital. He ordered crime scene inspectors to collect all evidence from the bomb sites in order to determine who masterminded the attacks.
Seven explosives went off almost simultaneously, killing two and injuring at least 20 people, as revelers prepared to celebrate New Year’s eve.
One person was killed and 20 injured at the Victory Monument when a powerful bomb went off near a bus station about 6.30 pm. The bomb ripped through bus stops, shattering windows at the nearby restaurant and sending debris in all directions.
Another person was killed near the Na Ranong intersection near Klong Toei. Around the same time, a bomb hidden in a trash can near a Chinese shrine exploded and injured three pedestrians. The explosion caused a secondary explosion by igniting several cooking gas cylinders nearby.
One person was seriously injured near the Big C supermarket at Saphan Kwai, where witnesses reported seeing a man dropping a grenade from a pedestrian bridge onto the police box. Residue of C4 and TNT were found at the scene, an iTV reporter said, quoting a military source.
A loud explosion went off in the car park at Seacon Square Shopping Mall, sending people in the immediate vicinity into a panic, but with no injuries.
Authorities ordered all shoppers, about 10,000 at the time, to evacuate the mall, one of Bangkok’s largest, and all shops to close down for business.
A bomb detonated at the police box at the entrance of Sukhumvit Soi 62. No injuries were reported.
Another police box was hit near the Khae Rai intersection in Nonthaburi province, just north of Bangkok, but no one was injured, said Police spokesman Pol Gen Ajiravid Subarnbhesaj.
A loud explosion was also reported at the Prachachuen branch of Tesco-Lotus supermarket.
Soldiers were dispatched to some of the sites where the bombs went off, while other major shopping complexes, including Central Chidlom and Siam Paragon, were closed.
Deputy Governor of Bangkok, Wallop Suwandee, announced that all official events designated for the New Year’s countdown have been canceled.
Government Spokesman Yongyuth Malyalarp urged the public to remain calm, adding that police officers have been instructed to stay on high alert, including in areas where large crowds are expected to take part in the New Year countdown.
“Police reinforcements have been sent to various areas in the city. We urge the public to remain calm, continue with the celebrations but at the same time keep a look out for any irregularities,” Yongyuth said.
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