On August 17th last year, a huge pipe bomb ripped through the Erawan Shrine in downtown Bangkok, one of the city’s most visited sites. 20 people were killed and over 100 injured. But the confused response from Thai authorities left many with concerns that the real perpetrators had escaped justice.
One year on, there are more bombs, this time at resort towns across the south of the country. Evidence suggests the involvement of local insurgents, but once again the government is issuing conflicting messages about who is behind the attacks.
CCTV’s Tony Cheng reports.
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It was, said the Prime Minister, the “worst ever attack” on Thailand.
“They want to destroy our economy and our tourism” General Prayuth said.
20 people of six nationalities were killed, with 125 injured. A targeted bomb detonated at a time and place to maximize casualties.
12 months later, the tourists have returned, and the shrine restored to its former glory, as if nothing had ever happened.
But some very major question marks remain.
In the aftermath of the attacks, the Thai government issued conflicting statements. They said this was not an act of terrorism but it may have been politically motivated.
Two suspects were quickly arrested and charged but the explanation they belonged to a thwarted human trafficking gang, appears to have little substance.
And allegations of torture and coercion have dogged the judicial process that has neither transparency nor momentum.
And in the absence of any real leads, some fear a set up.
“12 months later, another series of attacks, this time across southern Thailand, targeting the tourist resorts of Hua Hin and Phuket,” Kan Yuenyong, director of Siam intelligence unit said.
Smaller bombs but appear over a much wider area. The government has once again dismissed international terrorism, and raised the possibility of political motivation, with little evidence it seems.
And their refusal to admit the involvement of the insurgents in the Deep South may be a fatal flaw in the investigation.
“Two bombings, a year apart, which may have been perpetrated by two very different groups. But the Thai governments confused reaction to both has been the same,” Anthony Davies, security analyst of Janes Defense said.
Until the military government is prepared to look at all the possible causes, the real perpetrators are likely to continue to escape justice.
Zachary Abuza on security issues in Thailand
For more about Thailand’s blast anniversary and other security issues facing the country, CCTV America’s Mike Water interviewed Zachary Abuza, the professor at the National War College.