PATTANI – More than 60 people including children were injured yesterday when a car bomb exploded outside a supermarket in Thailand’s insurgency-plagued south, police said, the largest attack for months on a civilian target there.
The Muslim-majority border region has seethed with violence for over a decade as ethnic Malay insurgents battle the Buddhist-majority state for more autonomy.
The latest attack hit the town of Pattani around 2pm yesterday with two bombs going off outside the Big C, a busy supermarket near the town centre.
Video posted by a witness on Twitter showed the second blast detonate in a large fireball, sending bystanders running for cover.
The first device was packed inside a motorcycle in the car park, officers said, spreading panic among shoppers.
“The second blast was a car bomb,” Pattani police commander Major General Thanongsak Wangsupa told AFP.
Deputy national police spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen told reporters 51 people were injured by the blasts, four of them seriously.
In heavy rain forensic officers started searching through the twisted remains of the car looking for clues, an AFP photographer said.
A large swathe of the supermarket storefront had been blown away, replaced by a twisted mess of charred metal.
“I heard a very loud explosion,” a resident who lives close to the supermarket told AFP, requesting anonymity.
“Minutes after that, I heard the sirens of rescue cars and ambulances. I feel bad about it… it happened at a place where people go to buy things.”
Authorities have identified at least four suspects in the huge car bombing at the Big C superstore from CCTV footage
Some officials believed that additional gang members may have posed as customers at the supercentre shortly before the explosions.
Authorities believed that two groups of people might be involved in the bombing. One of them may have stolen the pickup truck from a canvas roof vendor from Yala province on Tuesday morning, several hours before the attacks.
The Big C store will remain closed until June 1 pending completion of the investigation and repairs to the facilities. Thirty-eight people remained at Pattani Hospital for treatment on Wednesday.