Thai PM orders probe after several small blasts in capital

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha on Friday ordered an investigation into several small blasts in Bangkok that took place as Thailand was hosting a high-level meeting attended by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his counterparts from China and several Asia-Pacific countries.

The explosions took place near two stations of the Thai capital’s elevated train system. A police spokesperson said that one of the two injured men was being treated at a hospital and the other was sent home.

Two other blasts were reported at a government complex on the outskirts of the city, and near the offices of a company associated with supporters of Prayuth’s new government.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters that police arrested two suspects connected to the explosions at five different locations in Bangkok.

Prawit said the suspects were trying to create a “situation.” When asked whether it was connected to the junta’s recent relinquishing of power, he said, “I don’t know either, let authorities investigate first.” Thailand recently ended five years of military rule following a 2014 coup.


Members of the explosive ordinance disposal unit gather at the scene of an explosion in Bangkok on Friday. (Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP/Getty Images)

Police on Thursday said they had found two fake bombs outside their headquarters in central Bangkok, near the venue of the meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The meeting was not disrupted, and Thai media cited police as saying that two men had been arrested in connection with the incident. In was not clear if it was the same two that Prawit mentioned.

The use of small, generally harmless bombs, though infrequent, is a regular part of the Thai political scene — though rarely do the perpetrators claim responsibility or get arrested. While opponents of the government in power at any given time are usually blamed, there is also usually speculation that such incidents are a result of a power struggle of factions within the country’s highly politicized security forces.

The government that took power last month is led by an ex-general, Prayuth Chan-ocha, who staged the 2014 takeover and led a military government until he took power through elections this year. The government’s critics say the election was not fair because the rules favoured the parties backing Prayuth.

Prayuth’s main antagonists are supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a coup in 2006. The action set off years of sometimes violent contention for power between his supporters and opponents. Thaksin’s supporters are now the main opposition party in the new parliament.

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