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New riots fear over Bangkok blast

A bomb exploded in Bangkok early today, seriously wounding a man and stoking fears of civil unrest following a deadly blast five days ago and violent anti-government protests in April and May.

The government denounced the blast as an attempt to damage its efforts to maintain public order following the prolonged unrest earlier this year. An opposition leader said the incident was aimed at discrediting anti-government activists.

Police said a grenade tied with an oiled rubber band and wrapped in a garbage bag exploded at about 2am in an alley near Victory Monument, a transportation hub surrounded by hospitals, military compounds and nightclubs.

"I do not want to speculate on the cause at this point and whether it's politically motivated or an attempt to stir chaos," said Metropolitan Police Chief Lieutenant General Santarn Chayanond.

No group took responsibility for the attack, which followed a blast that killed one person and wounded 10 on Sunday in a shopping district occupied by tens of thousands of 'red shirt' protesters for seven weeks until a May 19 army crackdown.

Jatuporn Prompan, an anti-government protest leader, condemned the attack, which wounded a garbage collector. "We condemn anyone who carried out such act of cowardice in an attempt to discredit the opposition," he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thugsuban said whoever carried it out was using violence to "make the government look like it's not in control of the situation".

Several workers in the area said they believed the attack was brought on by a local dispute over illegal parking by taxi vans.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva lifted a state of emergency in six provinces yesterday.

hnews@herald.ie


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