BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s prime minister said Tuesday that authorities will use any means necessary to track down the perpetrators behind a bomb attack at a hospital that wounded more than 20 people, while the ruling junta said security elsewhere in the country was being reviewed.
“Those who are behind this have gravely violated human rights and have done something unforgivable,” said Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is also the head of the military junta that rules Thailand. “We will speed up efforts to find the perpetrators and will use all means necessary to find out who’s behind the bombing.”
The blast at Bangkok’s military-run Phramongkutklao Hospital on Monday fell on the third anniversary of the coup Prayuth led against the country’s democratically elected government. The takeover ended months of sometimes violent street protests that were part of broader political unrest that has exposed wide divisions in Thai society over the past decade.
Army chief Gen. Chalermchai Sittisart said Monday that it appeared that the explosion and two earlier blasts in Bangkok in recent weeks used similar explosive materials and were likely part of an attempt to disrupt the government.
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“All of this was conducted with the goal of creating disorder to the administrative work of the government and NCPO,” he said, referring to the National Council for Peace and Order, the official name of the junta.
Still he cautioned that it was too early to conclude who was behind the attack.
The Pheu Thai Party, which led the government toppled by the military coup, issued a statement Tuesday condemning the attack and saying it supported the current government’s efforts to bring those responsible to justice.
Junta spokesman Col Winthai Suvaree told reporters Tuesday that police will be responsible for providing updates about the investigation. He also said officials would coordinate with police to review security around the country.
“They have to determine important points like government buildings, or populated areas. They have to adjust whatever needs to be adjusted,” he said.
The bomb wounded 21 people, one of them severely, said Lt. Gen. Saroj Kiewkajee, an official at the hospital, which is also open to civilians. Thirteen of those wounded have already been released from the hospital.
“It’s horrible to even use the hospital as a target,” a victim whose name was withheld told local television station ThaiPBS. “I can’t believe they could be so cruel.”
Since the 2014 coup, at least six explosions have occurred in Bangkok. Last week, a bomb went off in front of the country’s National Theater, wounding two people. Last month, a similar explosion took place in front of an old government lottery office, also wounding two.
Those blasts used similar explosives but did far less physical damage than Monday’s bomb, the army chief said.
“This bomb was meant to cause casualties as it was packed with a large number of nails,” Chalermchai said.
Most of the bombs in Bangkok have caused only minor damage, except for a blast in August 2015 that killed about 20 people near a popular Hindu shrine. Officials have blamed that attack on Chinese Uighurs and two suspects who deny the charges are awaiting trial.
Thailand has also struggled for years with a violent insurgency in its southern-most provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala, the only ones with Muslim majorities in the predominantly Buddhist country. More than 6,500 people have been killed since the insurgency flared in 2004, though the insurgents rarely strike outside of those three provinces.
On Tuesday, suspected insurgents fatally shot two army rangers in Yala.