Back to back explosions hit Thailand’s tourist town of Hua Hin late last night (Thursday, 11th August), resulting in 1 dead and at least 19 injured victims, including 4 who were gravely wounded.
The accident happened at a tourist bar area, a day before Thailand’s “Mother’s Day”, a public holiday to mark the birthday of Queen Sirikit, the current Queen of the country.
At 10:20pm Thailand time (11:20pm Malaysia time), the first bomb, which was hidden in plant boxes outside beer bars in Soi Bintabaht, ripped through the town’s main intersection. The first and only victim who died so far is a female food cart operator, who died after she was rushed to hospital. The second bomb exploded around 20 to 30 minutes later.
Hun Hin Police Chief Sitthichai Srisopacharoenrat said that 9 foreigners were among the victims, and this is corroborated by the founder of Wildlife Friends Foundation, Edwin Wiek, who was at the location. He stated that at least 7 foreigners were injured, with 1 seriously wounded. The foreigners were believed to be from UK, Austria, Italy, and Germany, though it is unsure if any Malaysians are involved in the blast.
Wiek also stated that police stopped him from filming the bombsite as he “might tarnish Hua Hin’s reputation”, and described the scene as containing “a lot of blood, towels, tissues”. He added, “I mean all kinds of stuff that people use to stop the bleeding of the wounded people“.
He also allegedly saw the 2 bombs planted in pot plants 50 metres apart from each other, 1 in front of a bar while another was placed next to a temple. According to Wiek, both bombs were detonated via mobile phones and the second blast was the one which caused the most damage.
Briton Mark Gainsford, who was there at the scene, told BBC:
“I heard people shouting ‘bomb, bomb’ but I didn’t hear any blast. I ran out to see if I could help, I saw 8 to 10 people injured on the floor. The police arrived very quickly.”
No terrorist groups have stepped up to take responsibility for the attack but police has ordered all entertainment places to close as a safety measure.
According to Bangkok Post, this method of “double-tap” bombings are common in the southern area of Thailand, where insurgents set off a bomb, and after a set timing, explode a second bomb, which is usually larger than the first. This is to “maximise casualties among officials who arrive to investigate, as well as curious bystanders”.
Thailand authorities have already ordered security to be tightened at Thailand’s other tourist hotspots following the blast. The country has been the target of many bomb attacks in recent years, with 3 unfortunate incidents last year, the largest one in Erawan temple which killed 20 people and injured 125.
Hua Hin, a resort town on the Gulf of Thailand, is a famed tourist town and is only a mere 3 hours’ drive from Thailand’s capital, Bangkok. Thailand’s King and Queen, who are currently unwell in Bangkok hospitals, also visits the place for their traditional summer retreat.
UPDATE (16th August, 12pm):
It was reported that a Malaysian mobile phone was allegedly used to detonate one of the bombs that exploded in Southern Thailand. According to Bernama, Thai police is cooperating with Malaysian authorities on the matter.
“We have contacted our (Malaysian) counterparts on the matter and have received good cooperation from them (Malaysian police),” Police chief Gen Chakthip Chaijinda told reporters.
The alleged mobile phone had a Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission’s (MCMC) serial number and it has been handed over to the Malaysian authorities to trace the origin of the device.
When asked whether the said handphone was used in other criminal activities, Chakhthip declined to comment due to its confidential nature.