Thailand Reassures Foreigners Following Bangkok Hospital Attack

By Reuters 23 May 2017

BANGKOK, Thailand — Thailand’s foreign ministry on Tuesday reassured the international community that the country would increase security at sensitive locations a day after a bomb exploded at a hospital in the capital Bangkok wounding 24 people.

Thailand has been ruled by a junta since a May 2014 coup. The attack on Monday coincided with the third anniversary of the takeover and the army has blamed the incident on groups opposed to military rule.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which happened at the military-owned Phramongkutklao Hospital.

“Bombs will have an impact anywhere,” Thailand’s Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai told reporters on Tuesday.

“Any action at a hospital violates human rights … I would like the foreigners to know that security forces are looking after this,” he said.

“We didn’t want this to happen. If we can catch those behind this even better,” he added.

One of the most popular holiday destinations in Southeast Asia, Thailand attracted 32.6 million visitors last year, a rise of nearly 9 percent from the previous year.

The country’s beaches and city destinations continue to lure travelers with Chinese making up the largest group of tourists.

But Thailand has been rocked by attacks, including a series of explosions last year at popular beach locations, which cast a shadow over Thailand’s safety credentials.

The beach attacks killed four people and wounded dozens, a day after Thais voted overwhelmingly to accept a military-backed constitution that critics said would only serve to entrench military power.

Thailand’s military seized power on May 22, 2014 to end months of street action aimed at overthrowing a populist movement that had won several national elections since 2001.

The coup was the 12th military takeover since 1932 when Thailand saw the end of an absolute monarchy.

Junta spokesman Winthai Suvaree said security would be increased following Monday’s attack.

“Any security measures that are not working will need to change,” junta spokesman Winthai told reporters at Bangkok’s Government House.

On May 15, a small bomb went off near the National Theatre in Bangkok’s old quarter, wounding two people. It was not clear who was behind the bomb. An explosion outside a former government lottery office on April 5 wounded two others.

Army chief Chalermchai Sitthisat said on Monday that he believed the two attacks were linked to the hospital attack, adding that the materials used to make the bombs were the same.