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Terrorist bombs in Thailand kill four wound over a hundred at department store in tourist area

September 17, 2006

Burnt vehicles and debris after the bombings in Hat Yai.

Burnt vehicles and debris after the bombings in Hat Yai.

Jack Barton, Hat Yai, Thailand
September 18, 2006

THAI police are picking through wreckage for clues after five bombs killed four people and wounded dozens, including at least one Australian.

The simultaneous blasts ripped through Saturday night crowds in bars and cafes in Hat Yai, the main tourist hub in the southern region, which has been gripped by a Muslim insurgency that has killed more than 1400 people.

A Canadian and a Chinese tourist were among the dead. Police said 62 people, including 11 foreigners, were hurt.

At dawn yesterday, crowds of shocked onlookers gathered amid the wreckage. Walls were studded with shrapnel at the sites, which were covered with debris and pools of blood.

An Australian visitor still wearing his hospital gown stood staring at the wreckage of where he was drinking the night before.

"I feel really lucky today," said the distraught man, who did not give his name. Doctors had removed shrapnel from a shoulder and his girlfriend received multiple fractures to a leg.

"There are four people dead and another 62 people wounded in five bomb blasts last night," Songkhla province police chief Paitoon Pattanasophon said.

At least one bomb was planted inside a motorcycle and detonated with a mobile phone, local press quoted police as saying.

Thai television showed bloodied victims lying in restaurants or being led to safety as vehicles burned in streets strewn with shattered glass and overturned tables and chairs.

One body was shown covered with a white sheet next to an overturned motorcycle as firemen tried to douse several blazing vehicles nearby.

Soon after the blasts, almost 1000 foreign and Thai tourists were evacuated from hotels along Hat Yai's main road, the Nation newspaper reported.

The blasts happened on the day the army held a meeting with about 1000 villagers in a bid to end the daily bombings and shootings that have marked the insurgency in three Muslim-majority southern provinces.

They coincided with the anniversary of the formation of one of the region's key militant groups.

Parts of Songkhla province are under martial law as the Government struggles to contain the insurgency. Hat Yai airport was bombed in April last year.

Songkhla governor Somporn Chaibangyang said the attacks would damage tourism. "Authorities have to work completely to prevent any violence from happening," he said.


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