Monday, 22 August 2016

THAILAND: After Bombings, Thailand Beefs up Security

The police presence has been “increased nationwide” and a series of extra security measures have been put in place at airports, train stations and major tourist attractions. Police checkpoints have also been set up in the affected areas to search for suspects, and Thailand’s emergency services and hospitals are on standby in case of any further attacks.

It is now known that 13 bomb blasts and four arson attacks struck the southern provinces of Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phuket, Krabi, Phang-Nga, Surat Thani, Trang and Nakhon Si Thammarat on Thursday and Friday, killing four people and injuring 35. The Bangkok Post also reports that two unexploded devices were found on Saturday in Phang-Nga province, just north of Phuket.

Several tourists were injured in the blasts and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has moved to reassure visitors. The country was previously on course for a record year in terms of international arrivals and tourism revenues.

“The Tourism Authority of Thailand would like to reassure international travellers that Thailand remains a welcoming and secure destination and was visited safely by nearly 30 million people last year,” the TAT said in a statement. “The majority of tourists enjoy a safe and trouble-free holiday here in the kingdom. Thailand has long been known for the friendliness and hospitality of the Thai people as in this case that the injured people were able to receive medical treatments within a short space of time.

“TAT also would like to assure all tourists that locals and the police always do their utmost to ensure that in their country are safe and looked after at all times,” it added.

The UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) condemned the bombings, which came just a month ahead of the official World Tourism Day celebrations in Bangkok.

“More than ever we need to work together to make a great success out of the celebrations of World Tourism Day, this will be the best expression of support and union against these hideous acts.” said UNWTO secretary-general, Taleb Rifai.

The reason for the attacks isn’t yet known, but the country’s military government has played down links with insurgents in Thailand’s southern provinces. The Bangkok Post reports that six “political activists” have been detained in relation to the bombings.

These attacks follow the deadly bomb blast at a shrine in central Bangkok in August 2015, which killed 20 people and wounded more than 100. This was blamed on Uighurs from China, although the Thai government was careful not to call it a terrorist attack.

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