BANGKOK — A bomb attack killed 19 people including tourists in the commercial heart of the Thai capital Monday evening.
At least 123 more were injured by the powerful blast which hit a popular landmark heavily frequented by Thais and tourists alike at 6:55 pm.
One Filipino victim and two Chinese nationals were among those killed, outgoing police chief Somyot Pumphanmuang said. Twelve died at the scene and another seven have since died in hospital, according to the latest information from authorities.
"We have not discarded any possible motive," Somyot said at a news conference at the Royal Thai Police headquarters, located meters away from the scene of the attack. Despite media reports indicating one bomb was attached to a utility pole while a second detonated from a motorcycle, Somyot denied a car bomb was involved, saying the bomb was planted on the scene.
While no one has taken credit for the attack and authorities said it's too early to speculate, Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told Reuters it was meant to harm Thailand's economy.
"The perpetrators intended to destroy the economy and tourism because the incident occurred in the heart of the tourism district," Prawit said.
What appears to be the center of the blast along a fence enclosing the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok.
Anusith Kunakorn of Thailand's National Security Council said "details about the explosion are still confusing, so we cannot conclude whether it is about an accident or a political incident. Related authorities are urgently working to clarify this matter. Once we have conclusive information, we will inform the people."
The bomb left a gruesome scene. Photos showed blood, bodies and human remains around the shrine as rescue workers rushed to provide aid near the shrine, which is a popular tourist destination.
Soon after the blast, police spokesman Prawuth announced bomb units were dispatched to the scene on suspicion there more bombs. Despite reports two more bombs were found and disarmed, Prawuth said they turned out to not be bombs.