(BANGKOK) — Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha on Friday ordered an investigation into several small bombings in Bangkok that took place as Thailand was hosting a high-level meeting attended by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his counterparts from China and several Asia-Pacific countries.
One explosion took place near a Skytrain station of the Thai capital’s elevated rail system. Two other blasts were reported at a government complex on the outskirts of the city, and near the offices of a company associated with supporters of Prayuth’s new government.
A police spokesman said that one of the two injured persons was being treated at a hospital and the other was sent home.
“A group of ill-intended people have recently incited violence while the government is propelling the country forward,” Prayuth’s office said in a statement, urging the public not to panic and cooperate with authorities in investigating the blasts.
“We must demonstrate our collective effort to fight against those who intend to harm the country,” it said.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters that police arrested two suspects connected to the explosions at five different locations in Bangkok.
Prawit said the perpetrators were trying to create a “situation.” When asked whether it was connected to the junta’s recent relinquishing of power, he said “I don’t know either, let authorities investigate first.” Thailand recently ended five years of military rule following a 2014 coup.
Police on Thursday said they had found two fake bombs outside their headquarters in central Bangkok, near the venue of the meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The meeting was not disrupted, and Thai media cited police as saying that two men had been arrested in connection with the incident. In was not clear if it was the same two that Prawit mentioned.
The use of small, generally harmless bombs, though infrequent, is a regular part of the Thai political scene, though rarely do the perpetrators claim responsibility or get arrested. While opponents of the government in power at any given time are usually blamed, there is also usually speculation that such incidents are a result of a power struggle of factions within the country’s highly politicized security forces.
The government that took power last month is led by an ex-general, Prayuth Chan-ocha, who staged the 2014 takeover and led a military government until he took power through elections this year. The government’s critics say the election was not fair because the rules favored the parties backing Prayuth.
Prayuth’s main antagonists are supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a coup in 2006. The action set off years of sometimes violent contention for power between his supporters and opponents. Thaksin’s supporters are now the main opposition party in the new parliament.