Car bombs outside a hotel in Thailand's southern region have killed one and wounded over 30. The country's more than 10-year-old ethnic conflict has again bubbled up into the public eye.
A first blast in a parking lot behind the Southern Hotel caused no casualties, Police Lt. Col. Winyu Tiamraj told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday.
"The second explosion came from a truck parked at the hotel entrance, opposite a karaoke bar and a massage parlor, resulting in one death and 30 injuries," he said.
The second bomb struck shortly before midnight outside the hotel, which is located on the outskirts of Pattani, one of three Muslim majority southern provinces that have been hit during the 12-year insurgency and tend not to be popular with tourists.
A staff member at the town's hospital said 32 people were injured, five of them critically. All are Thai nationals, the worker told the French news agency AFP.
"So far there is one killed and more than 30 injured," Maj. Gen. Thanongsak Wangsupa, Pattani provincial police commander, told AFP. "The hotel building was considerably damaged."
The country's southern insurgency has been spreading northward after years of stalled peace talks. Several small but coordinated explosions struck earlier in August in resort towns further north. The kingdom's junta leadership has been keen to downplay suggestions that the insurgency may have spread.
Travel to Pattani is not recommended because of the long-running conflict between the Buddhist-majority state and shadowy Muslim rebels seeking greater autonomy. Near-daily shootings and roadside bombs have left more than 6,500 dead since 2004, most of them civilians.
Tourism is one of the only growth sectors in Thailand and accounts for 10 percent of an economy that has struggled under the stewardship of a military government that seized power two years ago.
jbh/sms (AFP, Reuters)