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Bangkok bombings kill 3; New Year's events canceled

January 01, 2007|From the Associated Press

BANGKOK, THAILAND — A series of coordinated bombings stunned this capital Sunday as it prepared to ring in 2007, leaving three people dead and canceling festivities for thousands of revelers.

The nine bombs that exploded across Bangkok on New Year's Eve and early today also wounded 38 people, at least six of them foreigners, including an American.

The bombings capped a year of unrest in Thailand, including a military coup in September and an increasingly violent Muslim insurgency in the south.

There was no claim of responsibility. National Deputy Police Chief Gen. Ajirawit Suphanaphesat said Muslim separatists were probably not behind the attacks.

Interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont indicated today that domestic politics was behind the bombings.

"It is likely related to people who lost their political benefits," Surayud told a news conference, referring to the ousted regime of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thaksin's lawyer, Noppadol Patama, was quoted as saying that Thaksin was not involved in the bombings.

In addition to the American, the foreigners known to have been hurt were two Serbs, two Britons and a Hungarian, said Suchila La-oan, a staff member of Police General Hospital.

The bombings triggered increased security in the capital, but no chaos.

Three of the bombs exploded just after midnight in a phone booth, a hotel and near a canal bridge in a downtown area thick with hotels and shopping malls.

They went off near the planned venue for Bangkok's main New Year's countdown party, which had been canceled hours earlier after the six initial blasts throughout the city.

"Due to several bomb explosions in Bangkok and for the sake of peace and security, I would ask all of you to return to your homes now," Bangkok Gov. Apirak Kosayothin had told about 5,000 revelers at the downtown Central World Plaza shopping mall.

The crowd dispersed quickly but calmly.

The main public celebration also was called off in the northern city of Chiang Mai, though no incidents were reported there.

Bangkok hotels stepped up security, searching cars and canceling New Year's Eve dinners.

Police and army troops with assault rifles guarded some entertainment venues, mass transit stations and traffic circles. Roadblocks were set up on some streets.

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