Bangkok Bombings

Earlier today, a bomb exploded close to the Erawan Shrine, a major tourist attraction in the center of Bangkok, killing at least 19 people and injuring over 120.  Many foreigners, including some Chinese, are among the casualties in the attack; so far 10 Thai citizens, as well as one Chinese and one Filipino, have been confirmed dead.  As of yet, nobody has come forth to admit if they were involved in the attack.  According to Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, the bombers targeted foreigners in an effort “to damage tourism and the economy”.  Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was quoted as saying that government was planning to set up a “war room” to coordinate the proper response to this bombing.Bangkok bombings at Erawan shrine

Thai police have said that 123 people have been injured, with the government in Hong Kong saying that the numbers of wounded included three of its citizens.  The police said that 3kg of TNT had been stuffed in a pipe inside the shrine, which was set off by an electronic circuit.  While the police have checked the area for other devices, no further bombs appear to have been found.  Many people around the shrine were hit by the full force of the blast, and witnesses have described a wildly graphic and chaotic scene with body parts scattered everywhere.

The Erawan Shrine is dedicated to the Hindu god Brahma, although it also visited by thousands of Buddhists every day.  There are also three major shopping centers nearby.  The explosion took place on the Ratchaprasong intersection, which in recent years was at the center of political demonstrations.  The culprit of this bombing remains a mystery, partially because bombings in Bangkok are so rare.  While there has been a Muslim insurgency, this has mostly been confined to the south of the country, with attacks rarely taking place anywhere else.  However, Bangkok has also seen a decade of occasionally rivalry between different political factions, which has been known to turn violent.  Following months of unrest, the military took over the country last May, and the capital has been mostly calm since then.  Although with today’s incident, one can’t help but wonder if that calm is going to last forever.