Bombs in southern Thailand kill 8, wound dozens

Bombs in southern Thailand kill 8, wound dozens

HAT YAI, Thailand - The Associated Press
Bombs in southern Thailand kill 8, wound dozens

Thai bomb squad members inspect the wreckage of a car at the scene of a car bomb blast in Thailand's southern restive province of Yala on March 31. AFP photo

Suspected Muslim insurgents set off a series of bombs as shoppers gathered for lunch Saturday in a commercial hub of Thailand's insurgency-plagued south, killing eight people and wounding dozens, officials said.

Yala Governor Dethrat Simsiri said that 68 people were wounded by three blasts that occurred within a 100-meter radius and minutes apart in Yala city, a main commercial hub of Thailand's restive southern provinces.

"We are not sure which group of suspected Muslim insurgents were behind this but we are looking," he said.

The first bomb was hidden inside a motorcycle parked near a shopping area and detonated by a mobile phone at about noon, the governor said. Within minutes, a second bomb hidden in another motorcycle exploded, followed by a third explosion from a device placed in a car that set fire to nearby buildings, he said.

Such bombings are a common tactic of Islamist separatists who have been waging an insurgency in Thailand's three southernmost provinces since early 2004. The conflict has taken more than 5,000 lives.

Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani are the only Muslim-dominated provinces in the predominantly Buddhist country.

Separately, a blast occurred at a hotel in the city of Hat Yai, in the nearby province of Songkhla, that officials attributed to a gas leak and said was unrelated to the attacks blamed on insurgents.

Several tourists staying at the Lee Gardens Hotel where the blast took place suffered from smoke inhalation after the midday explosion, which occurred in a Japanese restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel, said police Col. Kittichai Sangkathaworn.