BANGKOK, Thailand – As Bangkok wakes up the day after a horrific attack, the town is swathed in red — both in the sky and on the streets.
Twenty have been killed and 123 hurt in an attack that appears to have specifically targeted tourists and Thai worshippers as the bomb tore through humanity at a Bangkok tourist attraction.
The question on most people’s minds is, who is responsible? The bomb appears not to fit any known historical profiles. The southern insurgents have never attacked the capital, and previous political scare tactics normally involved small homemade devices or hand grenades, not 3 kilograms of lethal TNT or C4 explosive. It was meant to kill and maim, to inflict large-scale economic damage, and hurt Thailand’s tourism.
The bomb explosion inside one of Bangkok’s most popular tourist attractions killed at least 20 people and injured 123 others – mostly foreign tourists – on Monday night.
Of the 20 dead victims, 12 died at the scene. The figures were based on information released by the Royal Thai Police Office.
The Bangkok Post reported that an improvised explosive device (IED) placed inside the Erawan shrine complex at the Ratchaprasong intersection detonated at 6:55 pm. The scale of the explosion set motorbikes and taxis ablaze inside the intersection and bowed the iron fence of the shrine outward.
The Erawan Shrine is a Hindu shrine that houses a statue of Phra Phrom, the Thai representation of the Hindu god Brahma. A popular tourist attraction, it often features performances by resident Thai dance troupes who are hired by worshippers in return for seeing their prayers at the shrine answered. It is particularly popular with Chinese and Taiwanese tourists. It is located on a busy corner near top hotels, shopping centers, and offices. Many ordinary Thais also worship there.
Military bomb squad technicians last night checked two other suspicious objects near the shrine and confirmed they were not bombs.
Road traffic is being diverted away from the scene, and the Skywalk between the BTS Chidlom and Siam stations will remain closed on Tuesday. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration announced that all 438 city schools would be closed Tuesday for safety reasons.
“It was clear that the perpetrators intended to destroy the economy and tourism, because it occurred in the heart of Bangkok’s business district,” Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan reported in the local media.
Police said the IED that exploded inside the shrine area was composed of 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of TNT stuffed in a pipe and wrapped with white cloth. Its destructive radius was estimated at 100 meters. Authorities quickly recovered an electronic circuit suspected to be part of the device about 30 meters from the blast scene. An important find, it will be examined by top forensic experts.
Most of those injured in the explosion were said to be predominantly Asian tourists, with the majority taken to Police General Hospital and Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital.
Ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, it was reported in the local media, tweeted on his @ThaksinLive account at 11:22 pm yesterday that he was now in Berlin, and he was appalled and saddened by the deadly bomb attack at Ratchaprasong.
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the attack,” he wrote.