A bomb hidden under rail tracks exploded on a Thai train destined for Bangkok yesterday, killing a railway worker, wounding three others, destroying half of the last carriage and blasting out a big crater.
The incident happened in the Khok Pho district of Pattani in Thailand’s restive southern border region, part of a small area in the far south of Thailand that Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advises travellers to avoid.
Muslim separatists in southern Thailand, mostly ethnic Malays, have been holding peace talks with Thailand’s Government but the talks ended on Friday without breakthrough. The the two sides have agreed to meet again.
The railway blast, which injured two other workers and a woman passenger, as well as killing a worker, came three weeks after a series of explosions struck three popular Thai tourist resorts and a town in the south. Those attacks killed four people and wounded dozens more.
DFAT advises Australian travellers to avoid visiting the southern Thai provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla, down by the southern border with Malaysia.
“We advise against all travel here due to the very high risk,” DFAT says. “If you do travel, you should typically seek professional security advice. Be aware that regular travel insurance policies will be void and that the Australian Government is unlikely to be able to provide consular assistance.”
DFAT rates the whole of the rest of Thailand as “exercise a high degree of caution”.
Meanwhile, Thai police at the weekend arrested the first suspect linked to the earlier spate of bombing and arson attacks. Police said a 36-year-old man, suspected of setting fire to a supermarket in Trang province in the country’s south, was arrested “in his hometown in Pattani”.
Written by Peter Needham