BANGKOK - At least one person was killed when a car bomb exploded inside a police compound in southern Thailand on Tuesday, a police official said.
A single perpetrator dressed as a police officer parked the car filled with explosives inside the compound prior to the blast, the police said in a statement.
“It was a car bomb. We are still clearing the area and the number of injured could increase,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Niti Suksan, deputy police commissioner of Narathiwat province, adding that one police officer was killed.
At least 29 people were treated in hospital for injuries, among them police officers and civilians, said Narathiwat Rajanagarindra hospital director Pornprasit Jantra.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed concern over the incident and instructed police and relevant security agencies to improve safety measures for the public, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said.
Images on social media showed black smoke billowing from a car on fire inside a low-rise compound and police diverting traffic from the area. Reuters could not independently verify the images.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.
The explosion occurred at 12.50pm local time (1.50pm Singapore time) inside the compound of Narathiwat’s police residential flats in Muang district, Thai news site The Nation reported.
The homemade bomb was hidden inside a pickup truck thought to have been parked at the heart of the complex by Malay-Muslim insurgents fighting a two-decade battle for southern autonomy.
A traffic police officer, Captain Sutthirak Phanthaniyom, was killed on the spot. Some other individuals – mostly members of police families living in the flats – were injured.
A police bomb disposal team later found an unexploded bomb planted opposite the flats, in front of a nursery school.
So-called “double-tap” attacks, in which security forces responding to one blast are then targeted by a second, often larger, bomb, are a hallmark of southern insurgents in Thailand.
Provinces in southern Thailand along the border with Malaysia have seen a decades-long, low-level insurgency, in which the Thai government has battled shadowy groups seeking independence for the predominantly Muslim provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and parts of Songkhla.
Explosions and fires ripped through at least 17 locations in southern Thailand in August, in what appeared to be multiple coordinated attacks that injured seven people.
More than 7,300 people have been killed in the conflict since 2004, according to the Deep South Watch group, which monitors the violence. Peace talks that began in 2013 have faced repeated disruptions. REUTERS, THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK