Bangkok hospital bomb attack wounds 24

Bangkok: A bomb struck a Bangkok military hospital on Monday and wounded 21 people — one seriously — three years to the day after the Thai army seized power in the politically unstable kingdom.
The small device — which police said was potentially deadly — went off near the VIP section of King Mongkut hospital as patients and their families waited for prescriptions, shattering glass and sending smoke into the corridors.
Hospital director Saroj Keokajee said the “low intensity bomb” injured 21 people, among them retired military officers.
“Eight people were admitted to hospital to observe their condition… among them is one woman who needed surgery because of shrapnel buried in her jaw,” he said.
Thailand has remained starkly divided since the May 22, 2014 coup, but dissent has broadly been smothered by a military with sweeping security powers.
While it was not immediately clear who was behind the blast, Thailand has a long history of bomb attacks on symbolic dates — carried out by militant political factions or separatists linked to an insurgency in the Muslim-majority south.
Investigators said the bomb may be linked to two other similarly small devices that went off in recent weeks, one outside Bangkok’s National Theatre a week ago and another left in a Bangkok bin in early April.
Both were too low yield to cause significant injury.
But police said on Monday’s device, while similar in size, was more serious because it was packed with nails.
“The people who did this are brutal,” national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda, told reporters. “If they (the nails) had directly impacted, they could cause death.”
The clinic in central Bangkok is often used by serving and retired members of the armed forces but also treats civilians.
Saroj said no senior military officers were near the blast.
Regardless of the motive, the blast will raise the political temperature in Thailand where violence had declined under the military’s stranglehold.
Despite a veneer of stability Thais remain divided and uncertain over the future three years after the ousting of the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra.
Protest and political gatherings are banned while dissidents have been rounded up on charges of sedition or breaching junta orders, or under draconian royal defamation legislation.
— AFP