Bangkok bomb kills 18, 'targeted tourists'

Thai soldiers inspect the scene after a bomb exploded outside a religious shrine in central Bangkok. Picture: Getty Images

A bomb that exploded at a commercial center in central Bangkok on Monday killed at least 18 people and injured at least 120 others, Thai police have confirmed.

National police chief Somyot Poompanmuang told reporters that a pipe bomb had been planted near the Erawan Shrine — a shrine and tourist attraction — in downtown Bangkok during the evening rush hour.

Previous reports also stated that a motorcycle bomb had caused the explosion.

“The perpetrators intended to destroy the economy and tourism, because the incident occurred in the heart of the tourism district,” defence minister Prawit Wongsuwan told Reuters.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson could not confirm if any Australians were killed or seriously injured.

“The Australian Government deplores the attack in Bangkok. The thoughts of all Australians are with the injured and the families of those who have lost their lives. The Australian Embassy in Bangkok is in contact with Thai authorities to determine whether Australians have been affected,” DFAT said in a statement.

“At this stage we have no information that Australians are among the deceased or seriously injured.”

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Bombs in city centres are extremely rare in Bangkok, which has remained relatively peaceful since a military coup ousted the civilian government last May.

As Reuters points out, “Thai forces are fighting a low-level Muslim insurgency in the predominantly Buddhist country’s south, but those rebels have rarely launched attacks outside their ethnic Malay heartland.”

CCTV footage seems to show the moment the bomb went off:

There are multiple reports of other explosive devices on the scene.

“We are now looking for another two to three bombs, as we have found one suspicious object,” a police official told Reuters.

“There could be another explosion, so we have blocked off the crime scene and are asking bystanders to move back.”

Here’s what the shrine looked like before the bomb exploded:

And after:

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