BANGKOK: A Thai man publicly confessed Tuesday to planting a bomb inside an army-run hospital last month, saying he was motivated by a loathing for the military and their frequent coups.
The blast occurred on the third anniversary of the junta’s 22 May coup and struck a VIP waiting room inside a military-owned hospital in Bangkok, wounding 21 people.
Junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha initially played down the timing of the bombing after suggestions it must have been orchestrated by someone angered by his putsch.
But on Tuesday the man accused of carrying out the attack, 62-year-old former engineer Wattana Phumret, calmly detailed how he built a small device packed with nails and left it in a vase in Bangkok’s King Mongkut hospital.
“I was inspired by my hatred for governments that come from military coups. Each coup has caused an economic disaster and restricted people’s rights,” he told reporters at a packed police press conference following nearly a week in military custody.
Since 1932 the Thai army has carried out 12 successful coups — two of them in the past decade, a turbulent period marked by repeated rounds of deadly protests and short-lived governments.
Despite a veneer of stability under junta rule today, Thais remain divided and uncertain over the future, three years after the ousting of the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014.
During his confession Wattana also admitted to planting a small pipe bomb in Bangkok that caused no injuries in 2007, the year after the military ousted Yingluck’s brother Thaksin.
He also said he planted two small pipe bombs in the run up to this year’s coup anniversary, a rare claim of responsibility for several explosions on a long list of unsolved bomb attacks in Thailand.
Wattana faces a life sentence if convicted but appeared relaxed Tuesday, giving the traditional clasped hand “wai” greeting to officers and occasionally smiling as he chatted with them.
He said he was not mistreated during his previous six days in military custody.
Wattana also denied belonging to any specific faction in Thailand’s fractious domestic political scene, insisting he acted alone.
Police later took him to reenact the bombing at the hospital—a common procedure in Thailand. AFP