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Bomb Blast Misses Weinberger : Shrapnel Pelts Bangkok Hotel Area Before Arrival

April 08, 1986|From Times Wire Services

BANGKOK, Thailand — A time bomb filled with nails exploded today in the parking lot of a hotel about 90 minutes before Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger was to arrive for a state dinner. Three people were injured, two seriously.

Weinberger was not in the area when the bomb went off about 6 p.m. but was to have passed within five yards of the blast site on his way to the dinner given by Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda at the government-owned Erawan Hotel.

The reception was switched from the Erawan to the Hilton, where Weinberger and his party are staying during his three-day visit. Weinberger was at the Hilton at the time of the explosion.

The bomb, filled with nails and small machine gears, was planted in a trash can located in a driver's rest area next to the hotel's entrance gate, police said. Damage to two cars in the parking lot was reported.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

The blast ripped through the left leg of a taxi driver and injured his arm, police said. A man sitting near the trash can was seriously wounded by shrapnel, and a woman pedestrian suffered slight wounds.

'Maximum Security'

Talking to reporters at the Hilton reception, Foreign Minister Siddhi Savetsila said Thailand is providing "maximum security" for Weinberger.

"At first I was really frightened when I heard about the bomb," Siddhi said.

Earlier, about 150 students and workers rallied near Government House, where Weinberger and Prem were meeting, to protest U.S. trade legislation and a proposed stockpile of American armaments in Thailand. The demonstrators carried banners that said, "Stop Suppressing Our Economy" and "Stockpile, No Thanks."

A letter from the protesters said the "weapons stockpile may endanger Thailand by making it a target for other countries and escalating the tension in the region."

Proposed Stockpile

A Thai government statement said the negotiations will begin within two months, but a U.S. defense official said talks could begin in the next few weeks.

"The primary purpose of this program is to enhance the ability of the royal Thai armed forces to resist outside aggression," the statement said.

"Munitions would be stockpiled in Thailand that the royal Thai government could draw upon quickly in the event of a serious military threat," it said.

Earlier, Weinberger flew by helicopter to northeast Thailand to see the volatile border with Cambodia.

Visit to Border Area

Weinberger inspected Fire Base EK Rawee, five miles from Vietnamese-held territory inside Cambodia, and visited the village of Charat, shelled in fighting last March, only three miles from the front lines.

"We want you to know we are with you," Weinberger told more than 1,000 villagers who waved U.S. and Thai flags. "We support what you are doing."

Weinberger told the people of Charat, many of whom were forced to abandon their homes because of the fighting, that he was glad that they had received some of the $8 million in U.S. funds provided last year for Thai villages near the border.

"It is a great source of happiness to me that the United States has been able to be of some small help to you," he told the villagers.

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