• Bangkok hospital blast injures 20

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    BANGKOK: A small bomb struck a Bangkok military hospital on Monday wounding more than 20 people, police said, three years to the day since the army seized power of the politically unstable kingdom.

    Thailand remains starkly divided since the May 22, 2014-coup, but dissent has broadly been silenced by a military with sweeping security powers.

    It was not immediately clear who was behind the blast but the country has a long history of small bombs being used by various political and militant groups, especially during significant anniversaries.

    Police investigations rarely get to the bottom of who is culpable for the attacks.

    Monday’s blast struck a pharmacy inside a military hospital in Bangkok, stirring panic among patients and sending smoke into the corridors but causing only minor injuries.

    “From the initial report it was a bomb… there are more than 20 people injured,” Deputy National Police Chief General Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul told reporters.

    “It was likely to be in a package,” Srivara said, adding that “battery and wires” were found at the scene.

    The clinic in central Bangkok—King Mongkut Hospital—is often used by serving and retired members of Thailand’s armed forces.

    Police said the hospital was not evacuated while bomb disposal officers scoured the scene.

    Medical emergency staff at the Erawan Rescue Centre said 24 people were injured.

    Police are already hunting suspects behind two other small blasts in recent weeks, but have given conflicting and contradictory information over the devices and likely suspects.

    Last Monday a small pipe bomb detonated outside Bangkok’s National Theatre, close to the Grand Palace.

    On a subsequent walkabout Bangkok’s city police chief declared the explosion was caused by a broken water pipe, only to later backtrack when other officials briefed it was a small homemade bomb.

    Since the coup the political violence that defined much of the last decade had subsided, although peace has largely been achieved through repression.

    Public demonstrations and political gatherings are banned while dissidents and critics are often arrested on charges of sedition, breaching junta orders or under the draconian royal defamation legislation.

    Militant elements among pro-democracy groups have either been arrested or have gone to ground.

    AFP

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