BANGKOK — A series of bombs scattered across Bangkok have given the city a rude awakening Friday morning.
Keep refreshing this page for updates to the situation.
Police have arrested three students who they believe to be responsible for the Soi Rama IX 57/1 bombing, ruled out as unrelated to the other bombings by Police Maj. Gen. Theerapong Wongratpitak.
Dunan Liangson, 19, a 17-year-old minor and a 15-year-old minor were arrested. Police also seized a homemade bomb, pen gun, and knives from them. The three have been charged with illegally owning and carrying a weapon.
Theerapong said the three, all students, are “unrelated to the bombings in the city,” and that the three had stashed weapons in the soi for self-defense.
While the other bombings struck urban areas and government centers, Soi Rama IX 57/1 is located in the western suburbs of the city. The blast injured three street cleaners.
A suspected arson raged through Miniso store inside Siam Square One shopping mall on Friday 4am, but the incident happened to unfold to the media only at night.
The flame blazed way before opening time at 4:45am, damaging products on the shelves before fire sprinklers were activated.
Police found wires and parts of what appeared to be an electric circuit among the wreckage, but did not confirm whether the fire is related to the attacks. However, a CCTV footage obtained by Khaosod shows a suspicious man putting a device inside one of the dolls before putting it back on Thursday afternoon.
Another fire was also reported at doll shelves inside Siam Paragon on Friday morning, but reporters at the scene was unable to confirm the incident as the mall staff refused to give any information.
After a 90 minute meeting with other security officials, Police Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda did not answer questions of press waiting 8pm at the Metropolitan Police Bureau.
Another bomb threat has been called in which turned out to be false, this time at Ratchaprasong Intersection. A suspected bag turned out to be a normal backpack. Other false alarms that have been called in during the day were at Airport Rail Link Hua Mark station, a bus stop across from Maruay Garden Hotel, Yodpiman Pier, Chatuchak Park, and MRT Hua Lampong.
Khaosod English reporters observe that security measures around Centara Grand at CentralWorld, where the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is underway, remain tightened.
The entrance to the venue is cordoned off to the public as VIP guests are leaving, with police and plain clothes officers guarding the surrounding areas. An officer, who asked not to be identified, told us they are not worried about the bombings as there are contingency plans in place for any scenario.
The meeting is attended by foreign ministers of 31 nations including ASEAN member states, the US, China, and Russia.
As of now, bombs exploded at four areas around Bangkok:
- Four bombs at the Government Complex in Chaeng Wattana, where the Thai Armed Force headquarters and Administrative Court is located
- Two bombs at BTS Chong Nonsi and in front of Maha Nakhon
- One bomb at Rama 9 Soi 57
- One bomb at the Office of the Permanent Secretary of Defense on Sri Saman Road
A black box at BTS Sala Daeng this afternoon turned out to be a false alarm. Police found and defused bombs at the Royal Thai Police Headquarters on Thursday night, where two suspects were arrested.
Police also found evidence of arson for the fires at Soi Petchaburi 9, including electric circuits and urea fertilizers, which are common ingredients for an improvised expensive device. Police Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda said that the alleged arson is believed to be connected to the bombings.
The fourth injured person from the bombings, Chanajai Lohmood, is being treated for foot wounds at Chulalongkorn Hospital after he was hit by shrapnel from the BTS Chong Nonsi bomb.
Correction: A previous version of this entry misquoted army chief Apirat Kongsompong and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha as saying the Redshirt movement was to blame for the bomb attacks. In fact, they made no reference to the Redshirts. We regret the error.
Army chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong suggested that “a certain group of people” and those “controlling them” were behind the bombings, without elaborating.
“This is similar to the events in 2006. It’s the same group of people, with the same ideologies that used to bomb police checkpoints,” Apirat said.
He said he was concerned that there would continue to be bombings, but remains confident that Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha has the situation under control.
In response to the news of police arresting two suspects from the southern border provinces in correction with the bomb attacks, the army chief suggested they could be “new hands” but “the people behind them are still the same.”
Apirat also added that intelligence services had been aware of plans for the attacks for a while, but did not expect the bombings to unfold so soon.
At a press conference with the press, Gen. Prayuth would not identify the perpetrators beyond saying the authorities have not discarded any possibility.
“But we can conclude that bad people were behind this act,” Prayuth said, “No matter what motive they had, we will investigate what connections they had with other groups.”
When asked about the bombings’ timing with the ASEAN summit, Prayuth said that security for the meeting was under control.
“You don’t need to ask me that,” he replied when a reporter asked if he was “strong enough” to deal with the crisis.
The main opposition party also condemned the attacks in a post on its official Facebook.
“Pheu Thai Party condemns the group of individuals who may be taking advantage of the situation to spread fear among citizens,” the post reads. “We hope the situation will improve rather than be hijacked for political gain.”
Meanwhile, Police Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda said that the Soi Phetchaburi arson is believed to be connected to the bombings.
Senior police officers, who asked not to be identified, told reporter Pravit Rojanaphruk that two suspects have been arrested. A scheduled police press conference at the Metropolitan Police Department has been pushed back.
The suspects were arrested on Thursday night after they were found to have thrown an unidentified object at the sign by the entrance of the Royal Thai Police Headquarters on Rama I Road. They were later found to be explosives, and diffused.
The suspects, two men, were apprehended while en route to Chumphon province. The men said that they were just on their way home.
Meanwhile, officials found fragments of a possible bomb in the wreckage of a fire that raged through Duen Den Market at Soi Phetchaburi 19 from 5am, a stone’s throw from Platinum Fashion Mall. Although initially suspected to be a case of electrical short circuiting (common in Bangkok), police now suspect arson and a possible relation to the bombings.
LIVE at BTS Sala Daeng in Silom, where bomb squad officials are inspecting whether a black box under an escalator is an explosive.
The box turned out to be a false alarm. The box, a watch box, was empty.
The BTS has not increased security measures despite explosions at two stations in one day. Commuters at BTS Sala Daeng are still bustling. A security guard declined to comment.
“I’m worried,” one BTS commuter said. “But I have no choice but to use it.”
At the Office of the Permanent Secretary of Defense, reporter Tappanai Boonbandit observes that the bomb there went off at around 9am. Skid marks from ball bearings are clearly visible on the office’s sign.
But officials asked our reporter to cut his live-video short and denied that there was an explosion, saying that a spotlight by the sign exploded. Plants have already been replanted. There are no reports of injuries.
LIVE at BTS Chong Nonsi, where our reporter Pravit Rojanaphruk is giving an update on the bombs. BTS officials prevented him from filming live on the platform.
“Looking at the shrapnel from the bomb, it is possible it was designed with an intent to harm,” said a bomb official.
A fourth bomb has hit the city at the Office of the Permanent Secretary of Defense, according to reports.
The next bomb went off at a platform of BTS Chong Nonsi Station, damaging a panel of safety glass which stayed intact. Exit 2 and 4 of the station are closed as of press time.
The first bomb went off at Building B of the Government Office Compound on Chaeng Wattana Rd. Another blast at the same spot came when police arrived to inspect the initial blast.
Around the same time, the next bomb went off inside Soi Rama IX 57/1. Authorities believe the blast came from a small explosive device. Three City Hall cleaners were injured from this blast. Sisana Pongsaidee suffered an injury to an eye, Sunthorn Rodsianglum suffered a neck wound, and Sasina Petchtonglang a ruptured eardrum.