Eight bombs went off, total, in shopping centers, supermarkets (Tesco is a British chain, FWIW), and a river pier, with a ninth found and defused. Thai police sent everyone home from New Years’ parties which may have saved a few lives. At this point (2:37 PM Pacific) the toll is two dead, thirty injured.
There’s a reasonable argument to be made that this is about domestic politics. Thailand suffered a military coup earlier this year, and the Bangkok Post describes some ongoing resistance to them of the pyromaniacal persuasion.
Still, unlike the Madrid Airport bomb, this involves a series of blasts with no warning and innocent civilian targets. Looks like the signature of an Al-Qaeda analogue.
Thai police insist this has nothing to do with the radical Muslim insurgency in the South, which burns schools just like the Taliban tries to do in Afghanistan. And maybe it doesn’t. Al Qaeda has operated in SE Asia for a long time.
Update (Bryan): The following is from a contact in Thailand.
Thai authorities are claiming that the bombs set off in Bangkok and a neighboring province are not the work of Muslim terrorists from the south of the country. Political opponents of the recent military coup and the unelected government are said to be responsible for the deaths and injuries.
This explanation has two possible interpretations: the bombings are either the work of supporters of deposed prime minister Thaksin
Shinawatra, or they were committed by other unspecified elements that are enraged by the military’s imposition of an unelected government.
Both possibilities beggar belief.
Arson attacks on schools north of Bangkok have been claimed to be the work of bitter opponents of the coup leaders and current government. Now the authorities are suggesting the bombs in and around Bangkok were placed by the same or similar groups.
It was recently reported that the Thai army is employing a “secret” force whose mission is to discover and counter political groups that are determined to resist the government.
Ever since the reappearance some two and a half years ago of violence in the predominantly Muslim south, Thai politicians and military leaders have made a number of incredible claims about the causes of the slaughter. Even as Muslim leaders announce their goals and threaten Bangkok with bombings, the government refuses to acknowledge facts. Thais cling to the absurd notion that the problem in the southern provinces is a purely domestic issue with simple economic roots. News is censored so the Thai public is unaware of the Malaysian government’s attitude; lies about the nature of Islamist teaching are spread and believed.
Official Thai policy is to deny the obvious, blame anyone other than Islamofascists for the violence, and mislead the public about the true nature of the threat.
The notion that Thaksin voters or idealistic proponents of representative democracy are eager to murder civilians at random is
insane. If Muslims are not behind yesterday’s bombings, then Thailand harbors a network of sophisticated sociopathic mass murderers whose motives and goals are inconceivable.
The only faction in Thailand with the means, the will and the desire to slaughter innocent people is the Islamofascist underground.
In the past, pro-Thaksin elements in Thai politics have tried to blame the protracted violence in the south of the country on organized crime. The mobsters were said to be killing people at random because Thaksin had cracked down on their lucrative operations (gambling, smuggling, drug-running). This lunatic “explanation” was accepted by many Thais, in spite of repeated acts of violence and civil uprisings that were obviously motivated by religion alone.
The jihadis have declared publicly that they would come to Bangkok to maim and kill. Why they are not taken at their word is a question that should be asked of the Thai authorities.