41 bombs explode in 30 minutes across Thailand

Source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2227004,00.html#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=World

Times Online
June 15, 2006

41 bombs explode in 30 minutes across Thailand
By Elsa McLaren and agencies

Forty-one bombs exploded within less than half an hour, killing two people and wounding 16, across southern Thailand today.

One of the homemade devices went off at government offices in Yala minutes before Deputy Prime Minister Chitchai Wannasathit was due to arrive for an official visit.

The attacks are believed to have been carried out by Muslim insurgents who have mounted a long-running but largely hidden campaign for independence of the country’s three most southern provinces.

The blasts went off between 8.30am and 9am local time, as people headed to work in the three Muslim-majority regions of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala, said government officials. Both fatalities occurred in the Pattani province.

Police said a local official was killed by a bomb that went off at a tea shop known to draw a morning crowd of government employees. Another eight people were injured.

Many of the bombs were planted in the toilets of provincial town offices and police stations, injuring three police officers in Yala province and five marines in neighboring Narathiwat.

Thaksin Shinawatra, the caretaker Prime Minister, said that intelligence had indicated insurgents were planning a “major operation” today, but the governments security prevention network was not good enough to block the attacks.

Education officials said that many schools in the region cancelled classes and sent students home amid concerns for their safety. Schools and teachers, viewed by insurgents as symbols of authority, are frequent targets of violence.

More than 1,300 people have been killed since violence flared in early 2004.