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Thai Police to Handle Phramongkutklao Hospital Bombing Investigation



Police Investigators at the site of explosion at at Bangkok’s Phramongkutklao Army Hospital.

BANGKOK – A spokesman for the National Council for Peace and Order said Tuesday that the Royal Thai Police not the military, will handle the investigation of the bombing of an army-run hospital on Monday that wounded 21 people, and security elsewhere in the country is being reviewed.

Col Winthai Suvaree told reporters police will be responsible for providing updates about the investigation into the blast at Bangkok’s Phramongkutklao Hospital in Bangkok’s Ratchathewi district,

The attack occurred on the third anniversary of the military coup that brought the junta to power. It followed another that wounded two people at the National Theatre last week.

Col Winthai said police would also participate in a review of security around the country.

“They have to determine important points like government buildings and crowded areas. They have to adjust whatever needs to be adjusted,” he said.

Soldiers patrolled the hospital grounds on Tuesday as the investigation continued. It was not clear who was behind the explosion or if it was linked to the anniversary of the 2014 military coup.

Army chief Gen Chalermchai Sittisart said on Monday it appeared the explosion and two earlier blasts in recent weeks used similar explosive materials and were likely part of an attempt to disrupt the government.

“All of this was conducted with the goal of creating disorder to the administrative work of the government and NCPO,” he said.

He cautioned that “we shouldn’t conclude anything yet” about who was behind the attack.

Police said investigators found remnants of batteries and wires at the scene of the hospital explosion, which occured in a waiting room for retired officers at the hospital dispensary.

The explosion wounded 21 people, one of them severely, said Lt Gen Saroj Kiewkajee, a hospital official. Thirteen were discharged soon after the explosion. Phramongkutklao is a military-run hospital that is also open to civilians

New York-based Human Rights Watch condemned the attack as an inexcusable crime.

“The bombing of a hospital is an outrageous rights abuse that shows total disregard for human life,” Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said. “Bombing hospitals not only risks the lives of patients and medical workers, but disrupts medical care for many more.”

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 Theatre, wounding two people. A similar explosion last month in front of the old government lottery office also injured two people.

Those blasts used similar explosives but caused 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,” Gen 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 at the popular Erawan shrine.

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