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BANGKOK, August 12. /TASS/. At least 14 explosions have rocked six provinces in Thailand over the past 24 hours taking the lives of four people and injuring 27 others, local police said on Friday.
Major tourist centers such as Phuket Island, the town of Hua Hin, the provinces of Trang, Surat Thani, Phang Nga and Chumphon have been targeted. Arson attacks were also reported in other provinces, as investigations are currently underway to find out if they were related to the blasts.
The popular beach resort of Hua Hin was one of the hardest-hit areas. Two people were killed and more than 20 others, including 10 foreign tourists, were injured on Thursday and Friday. Eyewitnesses say many shops, cafes and restaurants in the town have been closed and tourists have been asked not to leave their hotels. A large-scale operation has been launched to find additional explosive devices.
Three blasts ripped through Phuket in southern Thailand, a popular destination among the Russians. One explosion went off near a local police station, the second one near the beach and the third one near a hotel, wounding a taxi driver. Another two devices were discovered and subsequently defused.
Local law enforcement officials have ruled out that international terrorist groups could have been behind the blasts. "The situation has no relation to international terrorism. This is a local act of sabotage aimed at destroying the nation’s tourism industry," Thailand police spokesman Krisana Patanacharoen asserted.
Police have detained several individuals suspected of organizing the bombings, the spokesman said. Thailand’s mass media reports that Islamist insurgents active in the country’s south could have been behind the slew of blasts. Confrontations have been going on for 11 years in the provinces of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani, regions with a heavily-populated Muslim majority. More than 6,000 people have been killed there in bombings and shootouts over the past years. However, separatists targeted the attacks in these three provinces.
The Russian embassy recommends that Russians in Thailand be vigilant, Consular Department Chief Vladimir Sosnov told TASS on Friday. "The Russian embassy recommends that Russians, staying in Thailand, refrain from going downtown if possible, be vigilant, avoid crowded areas and strictly follow the demands of official authorities," he said.
Earlier, the Russian embassy in Thailand informed TASS that no Russians had been injured in the explosions. More than 20,000 Russian tourists are currently staying in Thailand, official spokesperson for the Russian Federal Tourism Agency Rostourism Svetlana Sergeyeva said. Most of them are vacationing in Pattaya, Phuket and Bangkok.
Extra police will be deployed to crowded areas throughout Thailand in the wake of the numerous blasts, the country’s tourist law enforcement agency said. Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had earlier ordered that all the necessary measures be taken to prevent any additional explosions throughout the country.