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Songkran Bomb Alert


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Nationwide security alert for Songkran

Source: Bangkok Post


Authorities have issued a full security alert in the wake of an explosion in front of a Bangkok mall. Australia warned that more bombings were feared at Songkran this weekend.


Bangkok areas of particular concern were the Khao San Road, a celebrated meeting point for foreign tourists and backpackers, and Sanuam Luang, a large park in the centre of the old part of the city which attracts thousands of Songkran revellers.


The government has ordered extra police in Bangkok for Thai New Year celebrations this weekend to try to prevent a repeat of the New Year's Eve serial blasts that killed three people.


Pol Lt-Gen Adisorn Nonsee said more than 3,000 police officers would patrol the capital, up from the current 1,500, during the five-day Songkran festival which kicks off on Thursday afternoon.


Piyabutr Jiwaramonaikun, chairman of the Association of Khao San Traders, said more than 100 soldiers, policemen and civil volunteers would be on duty in the backpackers' festival area while bomb detectors would also be used as part of the security measures.


Mr Piyabutr expected that more than 10 million baht would be circulated during the four-day event on Khao San Road which should see a daily turnout of 40,000-50,000 Thai and foreign celebrants.


He said revellers would be banned from applying talcum powder on others and each day's festival would end at 7 pm. Water gun is one of the favourite equipments to splash water on others during the festival.


Nobody was hurt in Monday night's explosion in front of Major Cineplex Ratchayothin, but three phone booths were damaged. Police detained, but later released a taxi driver suspected of planting the home-made device.


The Australian embassy in Bangkok issued an advisory to its citizens in late February, saying it had received reports of possible bombs in crowded places such as department stores or public transport in the capital.


The advice, renewed today in an announcement, urged "a high degree of caution because of the high threat of terrorist attack".


"Thai authorities have previously warned of the possibility of further co-ordinated bombings in Thailand to coincide with symbolic dates, including in Bangkok and the southern provinces," the travel advice said.


"They have mentioned the Buddhist festive season of Songkran (around the period April 11-17, 2007) as a particular time of concern. We assess these warnings are credible," it said.


"Further terrorist attacks could occur at any time, anywhere in Thailand," it added.


BangkokPost.com, Agencies

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