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Deadly blast rocks Thailand capital

Thailand-bomb

Body parts were scattered across the street after the bomb went off outside the Erawan Shrine in the downtown Chidlom district of Bankok. [AFP]

A BOMB has exploded close to a shrine in the centre of Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, police say. Local reports suggest at least 12 people have died and at least 20 more have been injured.

The BBC’s Jonathan Head, who is at the scene, says there is a huge amount of chaos, with body parts scattered everywhere. The attack took place close to the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok’s central Chidlom district.

The explosion occurred at about 19:00 local time (12:00 GMT). Some reports said the bomb had been on a motorcycle, others that it was tied to an electricity pole. No one has yet said they carried out the attack.

Some reports said foreign tourists might have been among the casualties. Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwong said: “It was a TNT bomb… the people who did it targeted foreigners and to damage tourism and the economy.”

The Bangkok Post quotes police as saying at least one more bomb have been made safe by officers in the Ratchaprasong area. Our correspondent says this is a very well known shrine in the centre of Bangkok, next to a five-star hotel.

He says the full force of the blast-hit people around the shrine. One bystander, Alessandro Ursic, told the BBC: “When I arrived they had already cleared the bodies from the ground outside the Erawan shrine but there were and there are still pieces of human flesh strewn around the intersection; it’s really graphic.”

Another, Richard Srikureja, said: “I was walking to a mall right next to the shrine and I heard a huge blast and people were just sprinting everywhere. It was total chaos and it’s right in the middle of Bangkok.”

The shrine is to the Hindu god Brahma, but is also visited by thousands of Buddhists each day. There are also three major shopping centres nearby.

National police spokesman Lt Gen Prawut Thavornsiri told Agence France-Presse news agency: “I can confirm it was a bomb, we can’t tell which kind yet, we are checking.” The explosion was on the Ratchaprasong intersection, which has been the centre of political demonstrations in recent years.

Our correspondent says bomb attacks in Bangkok are extremely rare. There has been a Muslim insurgency, but this has been largely confined to the south of the country and attacks rarely take place elsewhere.

But Bangkok has seen a decade of sometimes-violent rivalry between political factions. The military took over ruling the country in May last year, removing an elected government following months of unrest.



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