A car bomb injured seven people Friday night at a shopping mall on Thailand’s resort island of Samui, security officials said.
The bomb, hidden in a stolen Mazda pickup truck, also destroyed more than 10 vehicles parked at the Central Festival mall, said Banpot Poonpien, a spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command. Officials will tighten security to maintain peace and order as an investigation proceeds, he said.
The blast in Samui, part of the southern province of Surat Thani, was the first such incident since April 1, when the military government lifted martial law imposed 10 months ago. It’s unclear if the attack was politically motivated, related to business conflicts, or due to unrest in the nation’s three southernmost provinces, National News Bureau of Thailand reported today citing police chief Somyot Poompanmuang.
“We’d like to condemn the group who caused this incident as it threatens the country’s security, affects people’s peacefulness, and hurts the image of the country’s main tourist destination,” Banpot said in a text message.
Thailand has experienced a series of violent incidents since the army took power in a coup. A grenade was thrown at Bangkok’s criminal court in March, while two small bombs exploded outside a luxury mall in the capital’s main shopping district in February. Thirteen people were wounded in February when a car bomb exploded in the southern province of Narathiwat, The Nation reported.
Unrest in South
The perpetrators of Friday’s bombing may be involved with the unrest in southern provinces, Banpot said. For the past decade, insurgents in the Muslim-majority area have staged regular bombings and shootings, resulting in thousands of deaths as they seek independence.
Separately, a fire broke out Friday night at a cooperative on the Surat Thani mainland. There were no injuries and an electrical short may have caused the blaze, Banpot said.
The junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, lifted martial law on April 1 and issued new regulations under Article 44 of the interim constitution to combat threats to peace and order. Martial law remains in place, as it was before the coup, in southern provinces near the border with Malaysia.