11 April 2015
An explosion occurred late last night on the Thai island of Ko Samui. The source of the blast was a vehicle parked in the underground car park of the Central Festival shopping mall in the Chaweng Beach area of the island. Local reports say seven people suffered minor injuries.
The immediate aftermath of the explosion resulted in mixed reports and speculation about the cause. A faulty gas tank was initially mentioned, but that was quickly ruled out. The current military government in Thailand have stated today the explosion was caused by a bomb. The Thai government have linked the incident to the political situation in Thailand. Last week the junta lifted martial law, but said strong security measures were still needed in the country because of ill-intentioned groups.
Ko Samui is part of Surat Thani province which is the home of Suthep Thaugsuban, the former Democrat Party politician who was instrumental in bringing down the previous government of Yingluck Shinawatra. The province is a stronghold of the Democrat Party and Suthep in particular. At a similar time to the Ko Samui blast, firefighters were tackling a major fire on the Surat Thani mainland. The fire was at the Surat Thani Cooperative which was founded by Suthep. The controversial former politician is currently serving as a monk. He is blamed by many red shirt supporters for the killing of civilians during the bloody crackdown on street protests in 2010.
Initial reports suggest the vehicle involved in the incident on Ko Samui was stolen from Yala, one of the provinces in the Deep South of Thailand that has been plagued by an Islamist insurgency in recent years. However, government security officials in Thailand have played down any possible links to southern militants and believe the bomb on Samui is related to Thailand’s political situation.
Small explosive devices have been a regular feature of Thai political disputes over the last decade although such blasts have mainly been in Bangkok. In February, two small devices exploded outside a shopping centre in the Thai capital. In March, a grenade was set off outside a court in Bangkok. The military government linked these incidents to supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra and anti-coup groups.