Pattani hotel targeted in car bomb attack

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PATTANI, Aug 1 — A car bomb targeting the upmarket CS Pattani Hotel and an adjacent electric power transmission station Tuesday evening caused a blackout in wide areas of the municipality and fire at the hotel, but no deaths were reported.

Two other electric power distribution transformers were reportedly targeted shortly afterward.

The explosion occurred at about 7pm behind the hotel. Firefighters rushed to stop the blaze, bringing the fire under control, although it had reached the hotel’s upper floors.

The Provincial Electricity Authority restored electricity to the city, but not at the hotel.

Three people were reported slightly wounded by the car bomb.

Investigating authorities found the remains of a destroyed pickup truck behind the hotel. The vehicle had Bangkok license plates but it had been stolen in Pattani in June when the driver and two others delivering fresh chicken meat from Songkhla were killed.

The pickup truck was parked on Charoen Pradit Road, Soi 5, behind the hotel. Police found a 50kg gas cylinder that the bombers used to contain explosives in the homemade bomb that had been placed in the truck.

Fragments of a communications radio were found at the scene, leading the authorities to believe that the bomb may be triggered by a radio signal.

Surveillance cameras in the area are being checked for images of the bombers.

More than 80 hotel rooms were damaged, the kitchen was also affected by the explosion. The hotel workers has begun to clean up the hotel.

The car bomb was the first violent incident in Pattani after Ramadan begun 10 days ago, but it was the third attack following incidents in Yala and Narathiwat.

The blast occurred just hours after the government announced plans to set up a new command centre in Bangkok to tackle with the continuing violence in the insurgency-torn region.

SC Pattani Hotel owner Anusart Suwanmongkol, a senator from Pattani, expressed concern for the safety his guests and hotel staff. He said he did not know who was behind the explosion.

Mr Anusart said that his hotel was targeted in a car bombing four years ago on March 11, 2008 that killed his driver and that he himself was among the 15 people wounded in the attack.