A bomb has exploded in front of a department store in the Ratchadamri shopping district, killing one person and injuring eight.
The bomb went off on Sunday at a bus stop in front of the Big C department store opposite CentralWorld shopping complex, which was torched during the red shirt riots on May 19.
The bomb, hidden in a black plastic bag in a pile of trash, exploded at about 5:45 pm. Seven men and two women, including a Burmese woman, were injured while waiting for their buses.
Two of the victims sustained serious injuries, and one has since died.
Weerasak Sae-tae, 40, who has serious injuries, was admitted to Hua Chiew Hospital.
The man who died, admitted to Police General Hospital, was named as Thawatchai Thongmak, 51.
Mayuree Khongsungnern, a bus conductor who witnessed the blast, said she saw flames coming from a pile of garbage near the bus stop before the bomb went off.
Her No. 2 bus, which was waiting for passengers, was slightly damaged in the blast.
Police found three batteries, a soft drink can, electric wires, and electronic circuitry at the scene.
They believe the bomb was triggered by an alarm clock.
Police sealed off areas around the scene from Ratchaprasong intersection to Pratunam intersection for fear of further possible bomb blasts.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who is holidaying in Koh Samet, declined comment until authorities have evaluated the situation.
Democrat candidate PanichVikitsreth, who won yesterday’s by-election in Bangkok’s Constituency 6, said he did not want to drag the explosion into the by-election, as there was no evidence of violence during his election campaign.
Thepthai Senpong, spokesman for Mr. Abhisit, warned the opposition Puea Thai Party against concluding that the bomb was engineered by the government as a pretext to keep the emergency decree in place.
The decree is in place in Bangkok and 15 other provinces.
The National Reform Committee, chaired by former prime minister Anand Panyarachun, has called on the government to lift the decree, saying it jeopardizes the government’s reconciliation efforts and could breach people’s rights.
Mr. Thepthai called on all sides to withhold comment on the blast until more details were known, as unfounded claims could tarnish the country’s reputation and might cause public confusion.
Earlier, Mr. Abhisit said the government will have to consider the fate of the decree carefully.
Speaking during his weekly radio and television program, Mr. Abhisit said opinions are divided on the lifting of the decree.
Some security officers want to keep the decree as they are still worried about the political situation in their provinces.
However, business groups want the government to end the decree.
The National Security Council is analyzing the situation, and the government will investigate any allegations about security agencies abusing the decree, he said.
Meanwhile, acting secretary-general of the New Politics Party (NPP), Suriyasai Katasila, said the government should give the public a say in whether the emergency decree should be lifted.
Lifting the decree will boost public confidence. However, if the government wants to keep the decree in place, it should provide reasons for doing so, he said.
The Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation should not be the sole agency to decide whether to lift the decree or keep it in place, he said.
Chiang Mai Governor Amornphan Nimanand said the decree is still needed in his province, as some groups with ill-intentions were ready to cause trouble.