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Security Measures, Speculation Increase in Wake of Thai Bombings


Thailand's prime minister, Surayud Chulanont, has warned that additional bomb attacks are possible following the blasts that shook the capital New Year's Eve. VOA's Suzanne Presto reports from Bangkok that people in the capital continue to go about their business, as security measures and speculation increase.

Life appeared back to normal at the traffic circle near Bangkok's Victory Monument, four days after a fatal bomb blast at a bus shelter there. There was no sign of soldiers or increased security presence.

But the capital is stepping up security measures.

Foreign Ministry officials Thursday told the diplomatic corps that the government is increasing its use of closed-circuit television in Bangkok. The government is also beefing up security at public places, including airports and tourist attractions.

Investigators continue the hunt for those responsible for the New Year's Eve bombings, which killed three and wounded dozens. But the lack of concrete information has not prevented public officials from engaging in public finger pointing.

Foreign Ministry officials stressed that intelligence suggests that groups that lost political power in last September's military coup were involved in the attacks. Officials say these preliminary suppositions are based upon forensic and circumstantial evidence, as well as intelligence analysis.

Kuthep Saikrachang is the head of public relations for Thai Rak Thai, or TRT, the party of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin was overthrown in the coup.

Kuthep says that the party condemns the attacks and accusations by public officials that members of the former government may have been involved.

"There is no proof. There is no evidence, anything at all. That is why we ask them to be careful in making a statement against us. You know, they should have proof first before they can say anyone get involved," said Kuthep.

He adds that no member of the TRT has been questioned in relation to the bombing.

"That is only rumors. That is only the speculation by the media sectors, or something. So far, we don't have anyone to be questioned by the military," he said.

Prime Minister Surayud on Thursday warned that there could be more attacks. Without being specific, Prime Minister Surayud said that the people behind the blasts aimed to make a political statement by creating a sense of instability.

Foreign Ministry officials also say that intelligence agencies do not believe Muslim insurgents in the southern provinces are linked to the violence in Bangkok. Bomb experts have said the bombs were similar to, but not the same, as explosives used in the south.

Ministry officials also say the attacks will not affect the lifting of martial law. Martial law, imposed in September, remains in place in some areas of Thailand, including Bangkok.