11 bombs in 24 hours hit Thailand tourist spots
Eleven bombs were set off in 5 different provinces of Thailand over the last 24 hours, mostly targeting the country's vital tourist industry.
At least 4 people were killed in the blasts and 34 were injured.
Authorities deny that "international terrorism" was at work or that the blasts had anything to do with the one year anniversary of the Erawan Shrine bombing, or that they were connected in any way.
That's their story and they're sticking to it.
"These incidents are different from the usual terrorism acts, they are more local sabotage on certain locations and provinces," Deputy Police Spokesman Maj. Gen. Piyapan Pingmuang said at a news conference Friday.
The series of blasts come days before the one year anniversary of the Erawan Shrine bombing, which killed 20 people, and five days after the country voted on a new constitution.
Pingmuang said the blasts are not linked to the Erawan bombing.
he first explosion occurred at 3 p.m. local time in Trang province, killing one man and injuring six people, according to Royal Thai Police.
Two bombs went off that evening in the resort city of Hua Hin -- one at 10:15 p.m. near a bar called Johnny's 56, and another at 11 p.m. in front of the Rain Tree Spa.
A woman working at a food vending cart was killed, Police Lieutenant Colonel Samoer Yoosumran said.
Royal Thai Police said another 21 people were wounded.
They include citizens from Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, according to Thomas Mohr with the San Paulo Hospital in Hua Hin.
Shane Brett, who was visiting the area from Tokyo, said he was close by during both explosions.
He told CNN that he heard a "bang" and saw people panicking around the area.
"[I] went to have a look and caught a glimpse of the scene but the whole area was in frenzy and people [were] advised to stay inside," he said.
Security at the Hilton hotel where Brett is staying has dramatically increased, he said.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Samoer Yoosumran said the bombs had been planted in tree pots near the targets.
Edwin Wiek, who has lived in Thailand for almost 30 years, tweeted a photo of a planter that was blown apart in one of the blasts.
On Friday morning at least eight explosions occurred in five provinces.
Bombs went off again Hua Hin as well as in Surat Thani, Trang Province, Phang-nga province and the resort island of Phuket.
Two bombings in Phuket happened at 7:45 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. on Friday, according to Royal Thai Police.
The explosions hit Patong Beach and Bang La Street -- both popular tourist sites -- said Major General Theerapol Thipcharoen, the chief of Phuket Provincial Police.
One person suffered minor injuries in the Phuket incident, authorities said.
The blasts were apparently small, but deadly. But the body count is secondary to what was being targeted. Thailand recently adopted a new constitution and the political fallout from the debate has been intense. It may not be ISIS or al-Qaeda who's responsible, but the message to tourists is the same; you are not safe.
It's not surprising that the authorities are playing down the terrorism angle, and the danger that more bombings could be on the way from whatever group is responsible for the coordinated attacks. Tourism accounts for 6% of Thailand's GDP, and a disruption there would devastate the hospitality industry - a major source of jobs for the middle class.
But denying there's a problem would be equally bad. The authorities will have to identify those responsible quickly and crackdown swiftly in order to reassure foreign travelers the situation is under control.