A massive bomb exploded during rush hour at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok today which, as of this writing, has killed 21 people and injured more than 120. The Erawan Shrine which has a statue of the Hindu god Brahma is a popular tourist attraction and it is believed that several Chinese are among the dead. The shrine has also been severely damaged.
The State Department says it’s too early to say if it is a terrorist attack. While no one has claimed responsibility at this point the suggestion that it is anything but a terrorist attack is inconceivable. The attack took place at a religious shrine, a shrine visited by tourists and at a time when the maximum number people would be around. There seems to be a concerted effort to dismiss the possibility that this could have been committed by Islamic radicals. There is a Muslim insurgency in Thailand, but it has been largely confined in the southern region of the country. An attack on Bangkok would be a significant escalation, but I don’t think it can be entirely discounted.
The Thai government says the attack targeted foreigners to undermine their economy and tourism. The military took over Thailand in a coup in May 2014. For most of the past decade, Thailand has been led by Thaksin Shinawatra and later his sister Yingluck Shinawatra. There has been political violence in Thailand in recent years, but nothing on this scale. But if Islamists aren’t behind it there is the possibility that the targeting of Chinese tourists could be a proxy attack against China for backing the military coup. Whoever is responsible for the attack has caused a tremendous loss of life and has desecrated a shrine sacred to the Hindu people.