Thai PM orders investigation of Bangkok bomb explosions

Thai PM orders investigation of Bangkok bomb explosions
One of the areas affected by the explosions was near two train stations in Bangkok. (AFP)
Updated 02 August 2019

Thai PM orders investigation of Bangkok bomb explosions

Thai PM orders investigation of Bangkok bomb explosions
  • The explosions happened near two stations of the elevated train system in the capital
  • Deputy PM said two suspects have been arrested

BANGKOK: Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha on Friday ordered an investigation into several small bombings in Bangkok that took place as Thailand was hosting a high-level meeting attended by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his counterparts from China and several Asia-Pacific countries.
The explosions took place near two stations of the Thai capital’s elevated train system. A police spokesman said that one of the two injured men was being treated at a hospital and the other was sent home.

A total of six bombs exploded at three locations in Bangkok on Friday and one explosive device was recovered before it blew up, a senior police officer said.

Police Col. Kamtorn Uicharoen told Reuters that three bombs exploded at the Government Complex in Chaeng Wattana and one failed to go off. Two others blew up in the Chong Nonsi area.

“The bombs in these two areas were improvised explosive devices triggered by timer,” he said.

A “ping-pong bomb” exploded in the Suan Luang area, he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters that police arrested two suspects connected to the explosions at five different locations in Bangkok.
Prawit said the perpetrators were trying to create a “situation.” When asked whether it was connected to the junta’s recent relinquishing of power, he said “I don’t know either, let authorities investigate first.” Thailand recently ended five years of military rule following a 2014 coup.
Police on Thursday said they had found two fake bombs outside their headquarters in central Bangkok, near the venue of the meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The meeting was not disrupted, and Thai media cited police as saying that two men had been arrested in connection with the incident. In was not clear if it was the same two that Prawit mentioned.
The use of small, generally harmless bombs, though infrequent, is a regular part of the Thai political scene, though rarely do the perpetrators claim responsibility or get arrested. While opponents of the government in power at any given time are usually blamed, there is also usually speculation that such incidents are a result of a power struggle of factions within the country’s highly politicized security forces.
The government that took power last month is led by an ex-general, Prayuth Chan-ocha, who staged the 2014 takeover and led a military government until he took power through elections this year. The government’s critics say the election was not fair because the rules favored the parties backing Prayuth.
Prayuth’s main antagonists are supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a coup in 2006. The action set off years of sometimes violent contention for power between his supporters and opponents. Thaksin’s supporters are now the main opposition party in the new parliament.


Kabul says no impact on security as US reduces troops to 2,500

The Pentagon confirmed the reduction of US troops on Friday in accordance with President Donald Trump administration’s November pledge to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January. (Reuters/File Photo)
The Pentagon confirmed the reduction of US troops on Friday in accordance with President Donald Trump administration’s November pledge to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 2 min 27 sec ago

Kabul says no impact on security as US reduces troops to 2,500

The Pentagon confirmed the reduction of US troops on Friday in accordance with President Donald Trump administration’s November pledge to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Reduction means the lowest level of US forces in Afghanistan since 2001, when the US invaded the country and ousted the Taliban
  • Taliban welcome the US move, describing it as important in the implementation of a historic deal signed by the group and Washington in February

ISLAMABAD: The Afghan National Security Council said on Saturday that the reduction of US forces in the country has no major impact on the security situation, as Washington announced it had met its goal of decreasing the number of troops to 2,500.

The Pentagon confirmed the reduction of US troops on Friday in accordance with President Donald Trump administration’s November pledge to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 by mid-January.

The troop reduction means the lowest level of American forces in Afghanistan since 2001, when the US invaded the country and ousted the Taliban who ruled Afghanistan from 1996.

“The reduction or increase of the American forces does not have any major negative impact on the fighting situation in Afghanistan,” Maulvi Rahmatullah, spokesman for the Afghan National Security Council, said in a video response to the Pentagon announcement.

However, Afghanistan’s vice president, Amrullah Saleh, said in a BBC interview on Friday that the “pullout risks more violence in the unstable country.”

He added that the American mission, which began 20 years ago, is not yet accomplished and that the US had made a mistake by conceding too much to the Taliban.

The Taliban, meanwhile, have welcomed the US move, describing it as an important step toward the implementation of a historic deal signed by the group and Washington in Doha, Qatar, in February last year, under which all US-led troops would leave Afghanistan within 14 months.

“We consider the decision as a good and effective step toward the implementation of the Doha agreement. We, the Islamic Emirate, are also committed to all sections of the Doha agreement,” Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told Arab News on Saturday.

He said the Taliban hoped that the Doha agreement would be fully implemented and all American forces would leave Afghanistan in the agreed timeframe.

“We consider withdrawal of the troops and leaving Afghan soil as a positive step for the people of the US and Afghans, and welcome it,” Mujahid said.

While acting US Defense Secretary Chris Miller said on Friday that the US was planning “further reducing US troop levels to zero by May of 2021,” he added that “any such future drawdowns remain conditions-based.”

As the Trump administration ends its term when President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Wednesday, there have been few clues about what the new US government plans are for Afghanistan.