Blast rips through Bangkok shrine

Blast rips through Bangkok shrine

27 killed in attack aimed at destroying economy

Blast rips through Bangkok shrine

A bomb planted at one of the Thai capital's most renowned shrines on Monday killed 27 people, including four foreign tourists, and wounded 117 in an attack the government called a bid to destroy the economy.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast at the Erawan shrine.
Thai forces are fighting a low-level Muslim insurgency in the predominantly Buddhist country's south, but those rebels have rarely launched attacks outside their heartland.

“The perpetrators intended to destroy the economy and tourism, because the incident occurred in the heart of the tourism district,” said Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan.
National police chief Somyot Poompanmuang told reporters the toll was 16 in an attack he said was unprecedented in Thailand. However, Thai TV placed it at 27, with more deaths feared because of the huge number of those injured.

“It was a pipe bomb,” said Somyot. “It was placed inside the Erawan shrine.”
The temple dedicated to Lord Brahma, on a busy corner near top hotels, shopping centres, offices and a hospital, is a major attraction, especially for visitors from East Asia, including China. Many ordinary Thais also worship there.

The government would set up a “war room” to coordinate the response to the blast, the “Nation” television channel quoted Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha as saying.
Two people from China and one from the Philippines were among the dead, said a tourist police officer. A rescue agency said 81 people were wounded and media said most of them were from China and Taiwan.

“It was like a meat market,” said Marko Cunningham, a New Zealand paramedic working with a Bangkok ambulance service. He added that the blast had left a 2-metre-wide crater.

“There were bodies everywhere. Some were shredded. There were legs where heads were supposed to be. It was horrific,” said Cunningham, adding that people several hundred metres away had been injured. At the scene lay burnt-out motorcycles, with rubble from the shrine's wall and pools of blood.

Earlier, authorities had ordered onlookers back, saying they were checking for a second bomb, but the police later said no other explosive device was found.

Authorities stepped up security checks at some major city intersections and in tourist areas. The city's elevated railway, which passes over the scene, was operating normally.

While initial suspicion might fall on Muslim separatists in the south, Thailand has been riven for a decade by an intense and sometimes violent struggle for power between political factions in Bangkok. Occasional small blasts have been blamed on one side or the other.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox