Ousted Thai PM slams gov't for linking him to bombings

Three were killed, 40 wounded in series of six blasts on Sunday.

thai pm 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
thai pm 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra condemned Thailand's new government for implying he was behind bombings in the country's capital that killed three people and wounded almost 40 over the New Year's holiday. Thaksin, in a handwritten letter faxed Tuesday from China and distributed by his lawyer in Thailand, accused the government of interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont of unfairly attacking him by saying it suspected that those who lost power when he was deposed in a September coup were behind the violence. He also said he suspected Islamic separatists, who have waged a bloody insurgency in the country's southernmost provinces for the past three years, may have been responsible for the eight small blasts that shattered Sunday night's celebrations. "I strongly condemn this act (of bombing) and I swear that I never ever think of hurting the people and destroying the country's credibility for my own political gain," Thaksin said in the letter, given to reporters. The bombings Sunday and Monday, which included nine foreigners among the wounded, have raised concerns about Thailand's stability, shaky economy and thriving tourism industry. While most residential areas were unaffected, soldiers with automatic weapons guarded bus and train stations as well as Bangkok's international airport. The attacks capped a year of unrest in Thailand, including the coup and the increasingly violent Muslim insurgency in the south, which has claimed almost 2,000 lives since 2004. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the blasts, though the military-backed government has virtually ruled out southern insurgents, instead focusing on supporters of Thaksin as suspects. However, it has named no one specifically and provided no evidence. Thaksin said the bombings could be related to the southern violence because they were similar to explosions that killed four people and wounded dozens last September in Hat Yai, the south's commercial hub near the three Muslim-dominated southern provinces rocked by the insurgency. "The insurgents have a strong notion to separate from Thailand or at least gain autonomy," he wrote. "I used to warn high-ranking officials that if we can't stop them ... they will go to Bangkok." Several analysts noted the military itself was a possible suspect in the bombings, perhaps aiming to demonize the former prime minister and excuse the continuation of martial law, imposed during the September takeover and still in effect in some parts of the country. Bangkok has rarely experienced deadly bombings, although several small explosions took place during recent political turmoil in an apparent attempt to create a sense of instability, rather than cause casualties.