Belfast Telegraph

Terror in paradise as four killed and dozens injured in series of bombings at Thailand resorts

By Staff Reporter

Attackers using fire bombs and home-made explosives struck at a series of popular resort cities and beach towns across Thailand in some of the worst violence to hit the country since a military coup two years ago.

At least four people were killed and dozens wounded, including 11 foreigners.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the violence, which followed a referendum last weekend on a new constitution that critics say will bolster the military's power for years.

The attacks occurred south of Bangkok and several of the blasts - including one on Loma beach in the tourist town of Phuket, and four in the seaside resort city of Hua Hin - appeared designed to hit the tourism industry, which provides vital income to the government.

Police said fire bombs triggered blazes at markets and shops in six places, including Phuket, Trang, Surat Thani Phang Nga and a souvenir shop in the town of Ao Nang, Krabi.

British nationals make over one million visits to Thailand every year. Most trips are trouble-free, but two Britons were murdered in September 2014 on the island of Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand.

The Foreign Office was last night advising UK citizens to exercise caution, especially in public places, and to follow the advice of the local authorities.

Thailand's economy has sagged since the military seized power in a 2014 coup, but tourism has remained one of the few bright spots, with visitor numbers rising to 30 million last year, and more than 14 million having visited by May this year, according to official figures.

Police said four of the injured tourists were from Germany, two from Italy and one from Austria. The Netherlands said four of its citizens were wounded. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said the government was doing the best it could "to provide security to the country. We have to band together and stay strong".

Police said they were investigating all leads but had ruled out links to international terrorism.

Royal Thai Police Colonel Krisana Patanacharoen said it was "too early to conclude" who was behind the attacks, but added that the bombings followed "a similar pattern used in the southern parts of the country" - a reference to a low-level insurgency in the Islamic south that has lasted for over a decade and killed more than 5,000 people.

The most devastating of the explosions, which occurred on Thursday night and yesterday morning, were in Hua Hin, on a busy street filled with bars and restaurants. One Thai woman was killed and about 20 people were wounded, half of them foreigners, according to police Lieutenant Chaiyot Tisawong.

General Sithichai Srisopacharoenrath, the superintendent of police in Hua Hin, said the bombs were hidden inside pot plants and set off by remote control, half an hour apart. He said a mobile phone, believed to have been used to detonate one bomb, had been recovered.

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