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Homeland Security

Bomb Explodes in Downtown Bangkok

August 17, 2015

by VOA News

At least 18 people have been killed and scores of bystanders wounded in an explosion in a popular tourist site in central Bangkok.

The blast hit the commercial Ratchaprasong intersection, at the open air Erawan Hindu shrine.

The explosion Monday evening targeted an area that draws tourists and shoppers with five-star hotels and upscale stores. Surveillance cameras caught the moment of the bomb went off as cars and motorcycles passed through the busy corner.

Arriving at the scene shortly after the explosion, VOA correspondent Steve Herman saw bodies covered in white sheets and human remains strewn on the street.

The Erawan Medical Center reports 12 victims died at scene, while six more died at the hospital. More than 100 were injured.

The Erawan Shrine in central Bangkok is usually packed with tourists and Thais, making offerings at a statue that is the Thai representation of Brahma, the Hindu god of creation. At that time of the evening, there would be hundreds of people in the area, Herman added.

Officials on the scene expressed no doubt that the blast intended to kill people and deliver a blow to Thailand's tourism industry, which accounts for about one-tenth of the kingdom's economy.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, the worst violence in the capital since weeks of clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in 2010 resulted in more than 90 deaths.

The country has suffered a low-level Islamic insurgency in three southern provinces since 2004, but that violence has rarely spread north.

Thailand's turbulent political climate over the past decade led to a military takeover last year. Since then the military-led government has kept a tight grip on power.

Most of the casualties appear to be tourists from other Asian countries.

Thailand has become increasingly reliant on visitors from China since last year's coup and a period of martial law scared away other tourists.

Following the explosion authorities increased security in other tourist and commercial areas.

VOA correspondent Steve Herman and journalist Ron Corben contributed to this report from Bangkok.

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