Thai police suspect Muslim insurgents are responsible for two explosions in front of a shopping centre in Thailand”s Muslim-dominated southern province of Pattani that injured at least 58 people today.
At least three children were among the 58 injured who were sent to hospital, a Pattani hospital spokesperson told dpa.
Two of those injured remain in critical condition and suffer internal organ damage, the hospital said.
The first smaller explosion was followed by a “huge” car bomb that injured many people, Preecha Prachumthai of Pattani’s police told dpa.
The incident occurred at the car park of a shopping centre in Pattani, 1,000 kilometres south of Bangkok.
The province is one of three affected by a long-running Muslim separatist insurgency in the south.
No one has so far claimed responsibility for the bombing.
A security guard at the shopping centre told local TV station TNN24 that he saw two teenagers throw a giant firecracker at the car park entrance before driving a pickup truck through the entrance and parking it at the shopping centre door.
The two teens then fled the scene on motorcycles ridden by two other individuals, according to the security guard.
No suspects have been identified, Preecha said.
The car used in the attack was a stolen one, but the owner could not be found when the police attempted to trace the vehicle.
The shopping centre had been targeted in two previous bomb attacks in 2005 and 2012 and will remain closed for the duration of a police investigation, according to a company statement.
Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country, but the Muslim-majority deep south bordering Malaysia is plagued by a separatist insurgency that has left more than 6,500 people dead since 2004.
In early April, Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), a prominent separatist group in Pattani, issued a statement urging a mediator in a peace dialogue.
But the demand was rejected by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, saying the situation in the region is a domestic matter, and that the government does not negotiate with terrorists.
International organisations condemned the attack.
The United Nations International Children”s Emergency Fund (Unicef) “condemns such indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas, where children and their families are known to be present,” in a statement on its Facebook page.
“No child’s life should ever be put at risk in this way. This is wholly unacceptable,” said Thomas Davin, Unicef Thailand representative.
Amnesty International also urged an independent and effective investigation.
“The attack on a shopping centre in Pattani is a horrific and deliberate attack on civilians, and shows a callous disregard for human life,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty’s director for South-East Asia and the Pacific.
“Thai authorities… have a duty to bring the perpetrators to justice through fair trials and in line with international standards and without imposing the death penalty,” she added.