A bomb exploded at the Erawan shrine in the
heart of Bangkok on Monday evening, killing at least 20 and
injuring more than 120, some seriously.
The shrine, located at one
of the busiest junctions in the city, is surrounded by 5-star
hotels and mega shopping malls, and is frequented by Thais as well
Nobody has claimed responsibility for the
attack, but footage released on Tuesday afternoon shows a man
leaving a backpack at roughly the place where the bomb is expected
to have gone off. He left moments before the explosion.
Bombs, such as the one which exploded last
night, are extremely rare in Bangkok, and the ones which have gone
off in the past few years have been much smaller than what caused
such bloodshed and devastation on Monday night.
“These are direct attacks on the livelihood of
the Thai people and their economy which is strongly linked with
tourism. We stand by the government and the people of Thailand in
supporting its tourism sector as a vital pillar of the wellbeing
of Thai people,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
“Terrorism is a global threat impacting our societies, taking the
lives of innocent people around the world and aiming to destroy
our economies and our way of life. Thailand has a long tradition
of being a hospitable and welcoming country and we fully believe
it will continue to be so.”
While many countries have advised caution when
travelling to Thailand, the Hong Kong Security Bureau has issued a
Red Outbound Travel Alert for Bangkok. As such, most of the travel
agents operating Bangkok tours have agreed to cancel package tours
which depart between the afternoon of 18 - 31 August
(both days inclusive) and whose itineraries include Bangkok, with
the exception of cruise and charter tours.
Tourists are advised to remain vigilant, monitor
travel warnings, carry
ID, and make sure that they have all necessary emergency numbers
such as their embassy, airline, hotel, the tourist police (1155)
and the main Thai emergency hotline (191).
No one has claimed responsibility for
the Erawan shrine attack, nor the pipe bomb / hand grenade which
went off in the
water next to the Saphan Taksin ferry pier on Tuesday (18/8/2015).
At first, most Thai media seemed to claim
the attack was aimed at foreigners, tourists, but if visitor numbers
were to be counted, both areas would most probably be visited by more
Thais than tourists. The hard truth is that if someone wanted to
target westerners then there are far better places, and the same
goes for other nationalities.
To emphasize the point, the ferry pier is used by a lot
of Thais to get to and from home at a reasonable price while
avoiding the city's notorious traffic problems. It is also
used by tourists as a relatively convenient way to get to some
major attractions, by official tourist boats and by hotels on
the river ferrying their guests to the closest BTS sky train
The Erawan shrine also attracts a lot of
tourists - especially from places like China, Singapore, Hong
Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia etc. - but it also attracts a very large
number of Thais on a daily basis - which is in itself an oddity as
it is an Hindu shrine, and not a Buddhist one. Such is the
strength of belief regarding this shrine's powers, that the small
matter of different religious beliefs can be put to one side.
One question worth asking
however, is, if the aim of the bomb was to kill as many as
possible, then why do it on a Monday? Any other day of the week would have
likely caused more death and injury as Monday is the only day of
the week that lots of vendors are not selling garlands of flowers
and incense right next to the area where the bomb was detonated.
This is something you can clearly see on the CCTV of the bomb
suspect as he sits down inside the Erawan shrine.
On any other day, that side walk directly behind him would not only be busy with
passers by, but also with lots of those vendors - the death toll would
most likely have been much, much higher.
Thai officials will be eager to close this case
as quickly as they can, but some of the speculation making the
rounds in Thai media will be causing more than a little concern. China is not only
an enormous trade partner and one of the largest
outbound travel markets in the world, but the Chinese are also the
world's biggest spending tourists. Both the trade and tourism are crucial to the
A 1 million Thai Baht reward (roughly US$
28,000) was offered in exchange for information that leads to
the arrest of the suspect(s), this has now been increased to 3
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