A wave of unprecedented terror swept through Thailand in the past couple of days. As of now, four people were killed and 35 other were injured during terror attacks in the Kingdom’s most visited tourist spots. Targeted: Phuket, Trang, Hua Hin, and Surat Thani.
The attacks began on Wednesday, in Patong, Kathu district of Phuket. Two explosive devices were reported at a clothes shop in Chinatown and in a garment stall in Paradise Market. On Thursday, at 3 pm, a man died and six others were wounded after a similar bomb exploded in the Centre Point Market, in Muang district of Trang province. Eight hours later, three other makeshift bombs exploded in Hua Hin, at a bar and in a spa. Another wave of terror-related activities went off on Friday, with two bombs going off in Phuket, one in Surat Thani and another two in Huahin.
For tourists, it was hell on earth. Shane Brett, a British tourist in Thailand, witnessed the explosions in Hua Hin.
“I was at a bar in the main bar district in Hua Hin right outside the Hilton Hotel and at first I heard kind of a bang and everyone kind of panicked. (…) a good few people injured and the whole area just panicking … the whole area was just shut down with police cars, ambulances”, said Shane Brett.
Thai authorities are investigating the attacks, but it’s too early to bring forth the culprits. Signs show that the bombings were not initiated by terrorists, since there are no conflicts in the country, according to the police.
“It’s too soon to jump to any conclusion, but what we know for sure is that the incidents are not linked directly to any kinds of terrorism. In fact it’s local sabotage and we are trying to identify those responsible behind the scenes”, said deputy police spokesman Krisana Pattanacharoen.
According to officials, international terrorists the likes of the Islamic State haven’t been involved in the recent wave of attacks in Thailand. Most of the evidence points to Muslim insurgent groups in the southern part of the country, but the scale of the attacks and the level of coordination marks a level of escalation unseen in the past years of a conflict which was mostly contained in the border region.
Sympathisers of China’s Uighur minority are the prime suspects, say analysts, diplomats and quite a lot of officials. The latest terror attack from that faction came almost a year ago, when two ethnic chinese Uighurs bombed a Hindu shrine in central Bangkok, killing 20 people and wounding more than 120.
The bombs which went off in the past days are wounding and killing not only locals and tourists, but also Thailand’s tourist venues.
‘This ruins business. Hotels, restaurants, tours, we were already suffering, but this, it’s going to ruin our lives. This is the first time this has happened in Huahin. We think of this as a safe town, but now everyone is fearful”, said Hua Hin Adventure Tours guide Natsupa Dechapanya.
Hua Hin and Phuket are two of the most visited regions in the Kingdom, popular for their beaches, festivals and great conditions for water sports.