No suspects, no motive known yet, but two more bombs just exploded in Bangkok. That’s on top of the six that earlier expoded, killing two people, wounding more than 20, and shutting down New Year’s celebration plans in Thailand.
The Counterterrorism Blog is tracking developments. Zachary Abuza writes:
Coup leader, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin has deployed additional soldiers from the 1st Army to Bangkok to help the police patrol the area. Martial law was recently lifted in the capital.
The low profile targets at first led me and other analysts that I spoke with to discount the involvement of Muslim militants from the deep south. While I have long argued that they have never taken the option of targeting Bangkok off the table, nor are they ideologically against it, at the time they really don’t need to change their strategy. At this point the insurgents are winning (they certainly are not losing). What the attack seemed to reflect was ongoing elite strife over the 19 September coup. There have been several bombings in Bangkok in the past few years, but all have been linked to elite conflicts, not the insurgency. The higher profile bombing of the Siam Paragon – which this author was in shopping with his children a few hours before the blast – might mean something altogether. Then again, it could be the police or other forces disgruntled with the military’s takeover and simply be an attempt to discredit and destabilize the regime. The police are wildly unhappy about the reforms that the military is going to soon force on the police. Yet one of the bombs was placed at a small police kiosk wounding several police officers.
Officials from former Prime Minister Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai party have denied any involvement in the blasts. But unnamed sources from the Council on National Security told The Nation newspaper that the CNS was considering seizing Thaksin’s assets so that he could no longer destabilize the country.
The southern insurgents clearly have the technical capacity to execute large-scale bombings in Bangkok. They detonate on a daily basis far more powerful bombs than what went off in Bangkok. Yet, to carry out so many bombings would require an infrastructure in Bangkok that few would consider them to have, The bombs were also not like the ones usually employed by southern insurgents, in terms of composition or detonation device.