IN the early hours of Friday morning a series of bombs rippled through the southern Thai tourist hotbeds of Hua Hin and Phuket, killing at least four people and seriously injuring many more.
Two bombs hidden in plant pots exploded at midnight in a busy Hua Hin street packed with foreigners, killing one street vendor. The popular resort area, roughly 200 miles south of Bangkok, suffered another two blasts just hours later with one other fatality.
A bomb on the key tourist destination of Patong beach on Phuket was accompanied by multiple explosions across on the island with one death, while a bomb in Trang appeared to target the local police chief’s home and killed one man.
Thai authorities are on high alert and, despite there being a low-level Muslim separatist insurgency near the Malaysian border, have ruled out jihadi terrorism.
“This is not a terrorist attack. It is just local sabotage that is restricted to limited areas and provinces,” said national police deputy spokesman Piyapan Pingmuang.
There have been no claims of responsibility but the leader of the country’s military junta, Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed his belief that there was an anarchic motive at heart:
“Why have the bombs occurred as our country is heading towards stability, a better economy and tourism – and who did it? You have to find out,” he said, adding that he had ordered a security crackdown across all urban centres.
The military junta seized power in 2014 and this week was granted sweeping new powers in a controversial ‘anti-democratic referendum’. On Wednesday Prayut gave a defiant speech taking full credit for restoring stability to the country, leading to speculation that the bombers are hoping to discredit that claim and sow public discord.