Four injured in Bangkok army base blast

A Thai soldier taking picture of members of the media as they stand guard during a visit by Chaturon Chaisang, a former education minister, at an army base in Bangkok on Jan 29, 2015. Four people were lightly injured in a blast in an army ordnan
A Thai soldier taking picture of members of the media as they stand guard during a visit by Chaturon Chaisang, a former education minister, at an army base in Bangkok on Jan 29, 2015. Four people were lightly injured in a blast in an army ordnance base in the capital on Monday morning. -- PHOTO: AFP

FOUR people were lightly injured in a blast in an army ordnance base in Bangkok on Monday morning in what the Thai military said was an accident, days after twin explosions hit a mall in the capital. 

The explosion was triggered when a workman made a mistake in disassembling a grenade mechanism, a Royal Thai Army spokesman told local media. Initial media reports said nine people were injured.

 Bangkok has been jittery after twin explosions hit an upscale shopping mall in downtown Bangkok on Feb 1. The blasts were initially reported as a transformer blowing up but were later revealed as small pipe bombs.

 No one was injured in the incident, but both sides of Thailand's occasionally violent political divide traded accusations in its wake.

 Critics of the army and its seizure of power last May said the military had engineered the explosions to justify maintaining martial law - a charge angrily denied by the army. 

Junta chief and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha reportedly pointed the finger at disgruntled "Red shirt" supporters of ousted prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.  

 The royalist regime has imposed stifling controls on free speech, and has recently been arresting more people deemed critics of the monarchy. 

On Feb 7 Amnesty International said in a statement it was "deeply worrying'' that the handpicked National Legislative Assembly (NLA) would this month consider giving the military power to detain civilians for up to 84 days - up from the current seven days under martial law.

Monday's incident at the army facility in Bangkok's Bang Sue district occurred while General Prayuth was on an official visit to Japan.  

nirmal@sph.com.sg