Watch: Bombing in Thailand’s south targets shoppers, injuring at least 56
Bombing in Thailand’s south targets shoppers, injuring at least 56
At least 56 people, including children, were wounded when two huge bombs exploded at a busy supermarket in Thailand’s south where Muslim insurgents have been waging a bloody campaign.
Police said the first bomb ripped through the entrance of the Big-C shopping mall in the city of Pattani, 1,050 kilometres south of Bangkok, followed soon after by a second bomb left in a vehicle that targeted shoppers running for their lives.
Police said it was a miracle no-one was killed.
The shopping centre was targeted in previous explosions in 2005 and 2012.
Attacks have escalated in Thailand’s three southern-most provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala, near the border with Malaysia, since mid-April when Thailand’s military government rejected the terms of new talks proposed by the Barisan Revolusi Nasional, one of the main insurgent groups.
A key demand was that talks include international negotiators and observers.
“We must keep this issue from the reach of the international arena,” said prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former general who led a 2014 coup to topple a democratically-elected government, after months of political upheaval.
Mr Prayuth also said his government will not negotiate with terrorists.
Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Champa Patel, said the Pattani attack “is a horrific and deliberate attack on civilians, and shows a callous disregard for human life.”
“Thailand’s authorities must immediately order an independent and effective investigation,” she said.
But Ms Patel said the perpetrators must be brought to justice through fair trials and in line with international standards and without imposing the death penalty.
Almost 7,000 people have been killed and 12,000 injured since the conflict flared in 2004 when the insurgents demanded more autonomy in the Buddhist-majority country.
Most of the violence has occurred far away from Thailand’s tourist resorts, including the planting of bombs on roads targeting security forces and near-daily shootings.
But the insurgents are believed responsible for six bombs that exploded in Thai tourist resorts in April last year, including Patong beach on Phuket island that is popular with Australian tourists, indicating their willingness and capability to spread their attacks outside the three southernmost provinces.
Three people were killed and dozens injured in those attacks.
The UN children’s agency UNICEF condemned the violence.
“No child’s life should ever be put at risk in this way. This is wholly unacceptable,” said Thomas Davin, UNICEF’s Thailand representative.
Thailand’s Defence Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantrawanit said the government condemned the attack and considered it a grave violation of human rights.