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2 foreign tourists among 5 killed in blasts in south Thailand

Written by: Staff
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Bangkok, Sep 17 (UNI) A series of bomb blasts last night killed five people, including two foreign tourists and seriously injured 20 others in the main commercial and tourist centre in south Thailand.

The four explosions occurred at Hat Yai in Songkhla province known for its shopping malls and entertainment areas. The police have identified a Canadian among the dead.

Planted in motorcycles, the bombs were triggered by cell phones, authorities informed. All cell phone signals in the area were blocked to prevent more attacks. Hundreds of tourists rushed out of their hotels, panicked by the sound of the blasts, according to reports from Hat Yai.

The blasts took place on the day of an unprecedented peace initiative organised in the nearby province of Yala by the Thai Army which brought together some 1,500 young Thai Muslims including former separatist leaders, sympathisers and Islamic school teachers.

However, Army authorities declined to comment if the Hat Yai explosions were linked to Islamic separatist violence which has claimed over 1,300 lives in the three south Thailand provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat since early January 2004.

Similar bomb blasts had taken place at Hat Yai airport in April last year. No one had claimed responsibility for the explosions which were timed with the anniversary of the launch of the Pattani Islamic Mujahideen Movement two decades ago.

The Yala meeting dubbed as the Army's "Peace Project" was part of the ongoing efforts by the Thai government to win over the hearts and minds of people and alienate the separatists in the country's three Muslim-majority provinces.

UNI XC DKB BD1150

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