Monday, October 1, 2007

Bangkok bombing update

Update: 00:50 Bangkok time.
Some new information about the bombing in Bangkok tonight based on a Thai media report. As reported earlier, the bomb went off in front of the Ratchadamnoen Boxing Stadium on Ratchadamnoen Nok Rd. Two police officers were injured when a watch-timer detonated oil bomb went off near an army training facility at 19:30 this evening in Bangkok (not midnight as originally reported here). It sounds as if it may have been some kind of tire bomb, but I am not sure.

It seems that someone -- an officer -- noticed something strange happening inside a telephone booth, and then alerted police. One police officer suffered a loss of hearing, the other lost a hand.

Here are photos from the Thai-language Manager newspaper.

Update: 00:50 Bangkok time.
According to a report from an English language Thai newspaper, The Bangkok Post:

A bomb exploded next to the Army Survey Department's fence off Rajdamnoen Avenue Sunday night, causing injuries to two ordnance disposal officers at the scene.

The explosives was in a black cardboard box placed at a phone booth in front of a small soi between the Army headquarters and the Army'sSurvey Department.

The box was spotted by bystanders at the Rajdamneon Boxing Stadium across the Army headquarters and after the explosion, another box was found 50 metres away from the first one.

After being informed, the bomb disposal unit rushed to the scene at around 9pm. But while inspecting the box, the bomb went off.

The explosion seriously damaged the right wrist of a bomb disposal officer and injured another in the chest but not seriously. Both were sent to Hua-Chew hospital.

The site has not yet been sealed off, just barricades erected around it. Sniffer dogs have been used to detect more bombs at the scene and nearby areas.

So far, there is no initial comment available from police and the army about the motive of the explosion.

Jotman's Comment
I didn't have to look far to identify a possible motive for tonight's bombing. If you look at the Bangkok Post's home page you will see that directly beneath the top story about the bombing, is the news report about Gen Sonthi taking the deputy PM post:
Bomb explodes in Bangkok
A bomb exploded next to the Army Survey Department's fence off Rajdamnoen Avenue Sunday night, causing injuries to two ordnance disposal officers at the scene.

Gen Sonthi takes deputy PM post
Defence Minister Boonrawd Somtas said after having met with Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont on Sunday that Council for National Security chairman Sonthi Boonyaratkalin has accepted deputy prime minister post overseeing national security.
Just put the two stories together. It's quite likely that the bomb was a direct response to the annoucement that the head of the Council for National Security -- the Thai junta's chief -- will be appointed Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister.

I blogged about General Sonthi in connection with his recent comments which were supportive of the Burmese junta. His comments were encouraging of men who had unleashed a torrent of violence against peaceful Buddhist monks and civilians. You can read that post here. (I am not suggesting that his comments about Burma had anything to do with the bombing -- that strikes me as most improbable. His participation in the junta is another matter.

Further update:
I just spoke to someone who has been reading the Thai language reports online. If I understand him correctly, the Thai media now speculates that the motive for the bombing relates to someone's unhappiness with the person chosen as Sonthi's successor as head of the Thai army. Perhaps the bombing was not about Sonthi, but his successor.

I fully expect the Thai government to pin blame for this bomb on the democratically elected former Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin. That's almost sure to be the Thai government spin on this story. Just as they immediately blamed the bombings at New Year's on Thaksin -- when the most likely culprits were the Southern Insurgents -- this bombing will likely be blamed on Thaksin also.

Other Thais will speculate that the bombing was intended to shore-up support for the junta backed Thai government. They will claim the bomb was actually planted by the junta, perhaps as an excuse to declare a state of emergency.

Four possible motives for tonight's bombings:
  • An anti-coup group angered by Sonthi's appointment as deputy PM
  • Some Thai army faction is angry about who has been appointed as Sonthi's successor to head the Thai military.
  • It's the Southern Insurgents trying to get back at the Thai military
  • It's an attempt by the Thai junta to shore up support for their policies.

Since the terrorizing bombing of Bangkok in January on New Year's Eve, people living in the city have been apprehensive about the prospect that another bombing would happen. So far as I can tell at this hour, this incident appears isolated.

Update: Blogger Fonzi notes that whereas the Bangkok Post mentioned "a second box," The Nation reported only one bomb at the scene. And he asks, "Where was General Saprang?"

Upated (October 2): I have written a third post on the bombing. Bangkok Pundit has just blogged an comprehensive analysis of the latest information on the bombing, including Thai media sources. Check it out.

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