At least 27 people are dead and 78 injured in an explosion that rocked the area near the popular Erawan shrine in a busy intersection in Bangkok, Thailand, Reuters reported Monday morning.
A spokesman for Thailand’s ruling junta says at least two bombs were found at the scene. At least one planted on a motorcycle had detonated. Security video showed a powerful flash as the bomb exploded.
“We are not sure if it is politically motivated, but they aim to harm our economy and we will hunt them down,” Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon told reporters.
The explosion took place at the Rajprasong intersection, located in Bangkok’s commercial hub. It’s been the site of several political demonstrations in recent years. The bomb reportedly detonated in front of the Erawan shrine, a popular shrine to the Hindu god Brahma, where thousands of Buddhist devotees visit every day.
Anusit Kunakorn, secretary of the National Security Council, said Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the former army chief, was closely monitoring the situation.
The last major bombings in Bangkok took place on New Year’s Eve 2006, when a series of bombs killed at least three people and wounded dozens. Those bombings occurred just three months after a military coup ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
While Thailand’s capital has enjoyed relative peace since the coup, there has been tension in recent months as the junta has made clear it may not hold elections until 2017 and will allow emergency rule to take the place of an elected government.
In March, a grenade was tossed at Bangkok’s Criminal Court. Those arrested were reportedly sympathizers of the pro-Thaksin Red Shirt movement.
And in April, a car bomb exploded at a shopping mall on the resort island of Samui, injuring seven people. The motive was unclear, though the government suggested it was linked to politics.
Car bombs are rare in Bangkok, but have been used in Thailand’s south, where a Muslim separatist rebellion has waged over several years.