Twenty-seven people, including four foreigners, were killed and over 80 others injured in a powerful bomb blast inside a hugely popular Lord Brahma temple in a crowded area in Bangkok on Monday in the first such attack in the Thai capital.
The blast, which the government believed was aimed at damaging economy and tourism, occurred inside the Erawan Shrine dedicated to Lord Brahma in the downtown Chidlom district, creating panic as people fled the place where cars and motorcycles exploded in the impact.
The temple is located on a main road through Bangkok’s commercial hub and is surrounded by three major shopping malls and big hotels of international chains. It is among Bangkok’s most popular tourist attractions visited by East Asian tourists and local Buddhists.
However, there were no reports of any Indian casualties in the explosions that caused a huge amount of chaos, with body parts and glass panes scattered everywhere.
National police chief Somyot Pumpanmuang put the death toll at 16 but Thai TV placed it at 27. More deaths were feared because of the huge number of injured.
Of the four foreigners dead, two have been identified as Chinese and a Philipino.
An improvised explosive device fastened to a utility pole inside the Erawan shrine complex at the Ratchaprasong intersection detonated at 6.55 pm. The Ratchaprasong intersection has been the centre of political demonstrations in recent years.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack. Suspicion revolves around the hand of Muslim separatists in the South and political factions in Bangkok fighting for power.
The iron grills surrounding the gilded shrine of Phra Phrom as Lord Brahma is known in Thai, just in front of the Hyatt Hotel, were mangled. The bomb was apparently placed near the grill inside the shrine compound. The shrine was not damaged.
Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwong said: “It was a TNT bomb... the people who did it targeted foreigners and to damage tourism and the economy.”
Police said the bomb was made of 5 kg of TNT explosive. The explosion had a radius of 40 metres.
The Bangkok Post quoted police as saying that at least two more bombs were defused by officers in the same area.
“We are in close touch with the authorities concerned. So far there have been no reports of any Indians being injured,” Indian Ambassador to Thailand Harsh Vardhan Shringla said.
Police, emergency vans and bomb detonation squads rushed to the area. There was no threat of active bombs at the scene, the police chief said. The BTS skytrain remained open.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha denied rumours he had declared a state of emergency and ordered schools and businesses closed on Tuesday.
Bomb attacks in Bangkok are extremely rare. In 2012, a series of explosions hit Bangkok, injuring five people. Thai authorities said that the bombings were a botched attempt by Iranian nationals to assassinate Israeli diplomats. Several Iranians were arrested and charged for the attacks, one of whom was badly injured.