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Deadly Bombings in Bangkok Disrupt New Year Celebrations


At least eight bomb blasts rocked Thailand's capital, Bangkok on New Year's Eve, killing at least two and injuring scores more. Two blasts shortly after midnight followed six explosions earlier in the evening that led authorities to cancel some New Year's celebrations. VOA's Suzanne Presto visited the scene of one of the bombings and this report from Bangkok.

A small makeshift bomb exploded across the busy traffic circle from Bangkok's Victory Monument, killing one person and injuring several others. It was just one of more than half a dozen blasts marring New Year's Eve festivities in the Thai capital.

Blood dampened the sidewalk beneath makeshift vendor tables near the monument, and police cordoned off the area. Forensic experts laid out their findings on a white sheet - short nails, a broken metal watch band, small shards of twisted metal.

Seventeen casualties from the multiple blasts were brought to Rhavitee Hospital, near the site of Victory Monument.

"In all, 17 people here," said Dr. Jessada Chokedumrongsuk, the hospital's director. "Sixteen happened in Victory Monument, the other came from Sapanquai earlier."

He said one of the 17 casualties brought to the hospital was dead - a 36-year-old man from northeastern Srisokate Province. He added that two others required surgery.

Dr. Chokedumrongsuk said X-rays of some casualties showed embedded metal fragments. He said that the majority of the injured brought to Rhavitee Hospital suffered wounds or abrasions.

"Mostly, some in the face or extremitiesm," he said. "So, if a small wound, or a minor wound, we already treat some, went home already. I think one girl is 11-years-old, but only a few abrasions to the face, that is all."

Speaking at the hospital, Prime Minister Surayud Chulanot said the situation was under control and that everything would be done to avoid more trouble.

It is not clear who is responsible for the series of blasts. Thai officials said Muslim insurgents were probably not behind the bombings, which security sources said might have been politically motivated. Thailand has been plagued by a Muslim insurgency in the south that has left more than 1,800 people dead in the past three years.

Thtiya Intaradit, 28, rushed to Victory Monument once she realized her cousins may have been in a nearby noodle shop. She says they were unharmed, but they heard the blast.

Intaradit was shocked by news of the bombings.

"Everybody feel [s] upset, because this is not good for celebration for last 2006, until 2007 to come soon," said Thtiya Intaradit. "But everybody is so absolutely upset and hurt, and everybody wants to have good time for new year and to enjoy tonight."

She says her New Year's Eve plans have changed. She is heading home shortly, but not to partake in any festivities.

"I do not know," she said. "Maybe we have to be watching TV all about this news."

Bangkok's main New Year's Eve festivities, such as the countdown, were canceled because of the attacks.