• Filipino among 21 killed in Bangkok blast — reports

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    BANGKOK: The Philippine Embassy in Bangkok is still verifying reports that a Filipino was among the 21 people killed when a large bomb rocked central Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong area on Monday night.

    Charles Jose, Foreign Affairs spokesman, did not confirm international media reports that said a Filipino was one of the foreigners who perished in the blast.

    The blast injured 117 other people. A CNN report quoting Lt. Gen. Prawut Thavornsiri said several foreigners were among those who died in the attack, including several Chinese tourists who came from the Philippines.

    Among those killed were 10 Thais, three Chinese and five others whose identities are yet to be confirmed.

    Thai police reported that the injured, including Filipinos, Thais, and Chinese, were rushed to hospitals.

    The explosive was planted by attackers and aimed at taking lives, national police chief Somyot Pumpunmuang said.

    Officials from the Chinese embassy in Thailand have rushed to the site of the blast, and to hospitals to visit the injured.

    Volunteers are being organized to provide interpretation services at the hospitals, according to the embassy.

    The government has had the situation under control, deputy government spokesperson Sansern Kaewkamnerd said, urging the public not to panic.

    Deputy government spokesman Maj-General Werachon Sukondhapatipak said it was too early to determine the motive behind the explosion.

    The Nation newspaper quoted the Internal Security Operation Command (ISOC) as saying that there were three possible reasons for the blast, including political conflict, reshuffle of the government officials, and international terrorism.

    The ISOC ruled out insurgents from the Deep South.

    Deputy Premier Prawit Wongsuwan said the incident might scare away foreign tourists to Bangkok and adversely affect tourist industry and economy as a whole.

    He declined to comment if the bombing might have involved political conflict or separatist movement in the country’s southernmost region.

    Premier Prayut Chan-o-cha called an emergency meeting with high level government officials and military officers in charge of national security affairs at the headquarters of the National Police near the intersection.

    There have been no instructions on closing educational or financial institutions, Werachon said. But the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has announced that all schools under the BMA will close on Tuesday due to concerns over the safety of teachers and students.

    The junta, or the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), has denied rumors that it had declared state of emergency in Bangkok, saying there is no need for such a move. PNA/Xinhua with Bernice Camille V. Bauzon

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