Deadly explosion rocks central Bangkok | News | DW | 17.08.2015
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Deadly explosion rocks central Bangkok

The death toll continues to rise following a bomb blast in a central shopping area. Reports suggest at least 16 people have been killed - including foreigners - and scores more wounded.

A bomb exploded in the heart of Thailand's capital, Bangkok, on Monday evening local time, killing at least 16 people including foreigners, police and local media said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, which happened at a major intersection in the city and left scores of others wounded.

The pipe bomb detonated in front of the Erawan shrine in the Chidlom district, a shopping area popular with tourists. The Hindu shrine is visited by thousands of Buddhist devotees every day.

Watch Bangkok Police's dashcam footage of the blast.

Witnesses described seeing body parts scattered across the street.

Video footage from the scene appeared to show a vehicle ablaze under the Skytrain mass transit line, which runs over parts of the city. Other footage purportedly showed the moment of the blast.

Images uploaded to social media showed lamp posts and motorcycles strewn across the road.

Earlier, the bomb was suspected to have been hidden in a motorcycle, but this was later denied by police.

At least two other explosive devices were found in the area and defused.

"I was having dinner at the Hyatt Erawan Hotel when a large explosion shook the building," Eric Seldin, an office worker, told the German news agency DPA.

"When we were allowed outside 15 minutes later, we saw several bodies covered under white sheets," he added.

Motorcycle explosion in central Bangkok

The wreckage from the blast was strewn over the street, in the middle of a busy shopping area.

Thailand's defense minister, Prawit Wongsuwong, told Reuters: "The perpetrators intended to destroy the economy and tourism, because the incident occurred in the heart of the tourism district."

Two small pipe bombs exploded outside a luxury shopping mall in the same area of Bangkok in February.

Within hours of Monday's blast, a campaign around the hashtag #PrayforBangkok had been tweeted 340,000 times.

Vehicle bombs are more frequently used in southern Thailand, where a Muslim separatist insurgency has been waged for several years.

The Thai military has ruled the country since May 2014, when it ousted the government after several months of opposition protests.

The ruling junta has recently said it will delay elections until 2017.

mm/kms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)