AT least 20 people were injured when two bombs exploded in front of a government office today in southern Thailand, security officials said.
The explosions struck outside a local government meeting on the coronavirus outbreak after a week in which cases in the country trebled to 177.
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The growth in cases has prompted the Thai government to shut down schools and bars and to cancel public events like kickboxing and cockfighting.
The explosion occurred outside the Southern Border Provinces Administration Center during a meeting on the regional response.
A number of officials are reported to have gone outside to investigate following the first explosion and before the second.
Speaking to Reuters, Colonel Pramote Prom-in, a military regional security spokesman, said: “The first bomb was a grenade throne to the area outside the SBPAC office fence to draw people out.
“Then a car bomb about ten meters from the first explosion went off.
“This was hidden in a pick-up truck where the perpetrators parked near the fence.”
CCTV footage showed a suspect park a pickup truck outside the building before placing something on the road nearby and being picked up by a motorcycle.
Footage from nearby showed cars and pedestrians on a busy street before a huge orange flash and black smoke are seen in the background.
A number of pedestrians can be seen being thrown to the ground by the explosions.
Pramote said that among the wounded were five reporters, five police officers, two soldiers, and other bystanders.
Pictures showed a number of victims of the attack lying on beds in a hospital corridor, though no-one was killed in the attacks and none of the injuries are thought to be serious.
The Center houses officials who oversee the administration of three provinces – Narathiwat, Pattani, and Yala – where a separatist insurgency since 2004 has killed some 7,000 people.
The population of the provinces, which belonged to an independent Malay Muslim sultanate before Thailand annexed them in 1909, is 80 percent Muslim, while the rest of the country is overwhelmingly Buddhist.
Conflict has flared on and off for decades as insurgent groups fight a guerrilla war demanding independence for the area.
Peace talks between the Thai government and the main insurgent group, the Barisan Revolusi Nasional, have resumed this year after the BRN withdrew from previous talks in 2014.
There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks.