[Pavement at the entrance of Ramkhamhaeng Soi 43/1 is littered with debris and goods from stalls in the area after a Sunday night explosion that wounded at least seven people. (Photos by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)]
Police are investigating an apparent bomb explosion in Bangkok that left seven people injured on Sunday night.
Pol Col Narongrit Promsawat, chief of Hua Mark police station said forensic police were inspecting the scene at Ramkhamhaeng Soi 43/1. He denied earlier media reports that a man had been arrested in connection with the suspected bombing.
The blast was initially reported to be caused by a power transformer which blew up, but evidence accumulated and it emerged that the explosion was in fact the first bombing in Bangkok for several years.
Metropolitan Police Bureau chief Kamronwit Thoopkrachang said early Monday the explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) and was “not intended to kill”.
However, the device was packed with nails and flash powder, put in a plastic bag and hidden in a pile of rubbish bags before it went off.
Sunday night’s explosion occurred at the mouth of Ramkhamhaeng Soi 43/1. It destroyed two stores and a dozen street vendors’ stalls on the side of the busy Ramkhamhaeng road.
The blast panicked pedestrians and vendors who ran from the scene.
Police advised motorists to avoid using the route because the incident caused heavy traffic congestion.
Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit ordered officers to check potential conflicts of people living in the neighbourhood where the bomb went off, and to examine security cameras in the area to find the suspect.
Late on Sunday night, unconfirmed reports said police detained a “non-Thai citizen of Asian descent” who was taking photos of the blast and looked suspicious.
The injured, five women and two men, were taken to Ramkhamhaeng and Vejthani Hospitals. They were Arthit Wonghabutra, 29, Srawut Mahachai, 24, Donut Yasuree, 16, Janjira Jingjai, 21, Suthamas Jingjai, 47, Pannada Kanchai, 25 and Sumontiya Vejsoong, 44.
Three of them were treated for minor injuries and released to go home.
A clothes vendor who was about 10 metres from the centre of the blast said he heard a loud explosion and when he ran to the spot he found several injured people, most of them bleeding from their faces.
The blast went off at a rubbish bin between a beauty salon and the Bangkok Bank, he said.
Experts from the Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit said they found many nails at the scene, increasing speculation that a home-made bomb might have been the source of the explosion.
Pol Lt Sanoe Pongsuth, an investigator at Hua Mark police station, said the explosion took place about 8.30 pm.
“It was certainly a bombing because nails are scattered around the explosion site,” he said.
Several reports speculated that the blast might be connected to violence in the deep South. However, nail-packed bombs touched off by mobile phone signals are common throughout the world. Sunday night’s bomb was almost identical to six bombs that detonated in Bangkok in a deadly New Year’s Eve bombing wave in 2006. No one has ever been found responsible for that evening of terror.