You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Chaos as coordinated attacks hit Thailand

AAP logoAAP 11/08/2016 By Lauren Farrow, AAP Southeast Asia correspondent

Four people have been killed and more than 30 injured in a series of coordinated bomb attacks that ripped through several Thai provinces within 24 hours, leaving tourists holed up in hotels and chaos on the streets.

Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan, who was in Thailand earlier this year to discuss ways to combat extremism, said there had been no claims of responsibility as yet and it would be "premature to speculate on the identity of the perpetrators".

"Thai authorities believe them to be part of a coordinated attack," he told AAP in a statement.

Royal Thai Police deputy spokesman Pol Maj Gen Piyaphan Pingmuang said the blasts were not linked to international militants but instead "acts of sabotage", stemming from internal conflicts.

A number of suspects have been detained for questioning, the Bangkok Post reported on Friday afternoon.

The attacks come less than a week after voters approved a new, junta-backed constitution and during the midst of Queen Sirikit's birthday celebrations.

Edwin Weik, who has lived in Thailand for 27 years, said the perpetrators of the attack at Hua Hin on Thursday night must have known that tourists would be there before the queen's birthday on Friday when bars and pubs are not allowed to serve alcohol.

By midnight the popular seaside town had been turned into a scene of "chaos", he told AAP on Friday.

"There was a lot of blood, shoes, clothing, towels and tissues full of blood."

"I have seen three coups, fighting on the streets, blasts and bombs, shootings at temples, I have seen a lot of violence in Thailand and political turmoil so nothing surprises me.

"But when it is clearly directed at tourists like this time, that is very shocking. I don't know what kind of impact that will have on Thai society and tourism." A local female street vendor was killed in the attack and scores of others injured, including several foreigners.

Meanwhile in the southern province of Trang overnight, another person was killed in a bomb attack.

Then on Friday, Thailand awoke to more attacks.

In the province of Surat Thani one bomb exploded in front of the marine police office just after 8am local time (11am AEST), killing one person and injuring three, with a further explosion occurring minutes later in front of a nearby police office.

Around an hour later two more bombs went off in Phuket and another explosion ripped through Hua Hin again - killing another.

Perth couple Simon and Nicole Brown told AAP they were placed in lockdown at their Phuket hotel, saying "If things escalate we'll be on the next flight home".

The Department of Foreign Affairs have warned Australians to exercise a "high degree of caution" saying: "Further explosions in any part of Thailand are possible."

According to a report released this week by the Australian financial intelligence unit AUSTRAC there have been more than 1300 attacks in Thailand over the past three years, including insurgent attacks.

A 2014 report by University of Leeds professor Duncan McCargo described the conflict in Southern Thailand between Malay Muslims and the state as one of Asia's most serious insurgencies, with more than 6000 dead in the previous decade.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon