Scores Killed in Bangkok Blast

Scores Killed in Bangkok BlastScores Killed in Bangkok Blast

A bomb on a motorcycle exploded on Monday just outside a Hindu shrine in the center of the Thai capital, killing at least 27 people in an attack the government said was aimed at destroying the economy and the tourism industry.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast just outside the Erawan Shrine at a major intersection, Reuters reported.

"Perpetrators intended to destroy the economy and tourism because the incident occurred in the heart of the tourism district," defense minister Prawit Wongsuwan said.

The shrine, on a busy corner near top hotels, shopping centers, offices and a hospital, is a major tourist attraction, especially for visitors from East Asia. Many ordinary Thais also frequent the place.

The government would set up a "war room" to coordinate the response to the blast, the Nation television channel quoted Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha as saying. Police said the bomb had killed at least 27 people and wounded 78, many of whom were taken to the nearby police hospital.

Thai forces are fighting a low-level separatist insurgency in the predominantly Buddhist country's south, but those rebels have rarely launched attacks outside their ethnic Malay heartland.

After the blast, authorities stepped up security checks at some major city intersections and in tourist areas. Police said that attack was aimed at raising tension when the city was under martial law.

The shrine intersection was the site of months of anti-government protests in 2010 by supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Dozens were killed in a military crackdown and a shopping center was set ablaze.