Pattani, Thailand (AP) – Suspected insurgents in Thailand detonated a car bomb Tuesday outside a busy shopping center in the south of the country, wounding more than 50 people in a huge blast that ripped the building apart and sent people running for their lives.
The attackers initially set off a small bomb outside the mall before triggering explosives planted in a pick-up truck at the shopping center’s entrance in the city of Pattani, said police Capt. Preecha Prachumchai, who was investigating the blast. The military had earlier said the initial blast was firecrackers.
The explosion occurred at one of Thailand’s Big C shopping centers, a major grocery and retail chain. Footage of the scene aired on Thai television stations showed a huge black plume of smoke rising skyward from the blackened building as rescue workers doused the flames and soldiers stood by.
Preecha said more than 50 people had been wounded. Pattani Hospital posted on its board of emergency room patients that 52 people were injured from the incident.
No deaths have been reported.
Muslim separatists have waged a bloody insurgency for years in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces, the only ones with Muslim majorities in the predominantly Buddhist country. More than 6,500 people have been killed since 2004.