Thai authorities have ruled out international terrorists as the perpetrators of 11 coordinated bombings that rocked some of the most popular resort cities and beach towns in Thailand’s Islamic south, killing at least four locals and wounding another 36, including up to 11 foreigners.
The U.S. Embassy in Thailand notes that no Americans are among the victims.
In a safety and security message, the consulate warns that the Lebanese Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, has shown a willingness to attack foreign interests in Thailand.
However, terrorism links to the recent bombings have been dismissed by Thai authorities.
Attackers struck a series of tourist resort towns across southern Thailand with homemade explosives and firebombs in some of the worst violence to hit the country since a military coup two years ago. At least four people were killed and dozens wounded, including 11 foreigners.
Five provinces in Thailand have been hit by 11 bombings in less than a day, authorities say.
At least four Thai nationals have been killed and about 36 others were injured, including 10 foreigners, according to Anurak Amornpetchsathaporn with the Ministry of Public Health.
Thai police have reportedly ruled out links to international terrorist groups or a low-level insurgency that operates in Thailand’s Islamic south.
“These incidents are different from the usual terrorism acts. They are more local sabotage on certain locations and provinces,” Deputy Police Spokesman Maj. Gen. Piyapan Pingmuang told reporters Friday, according to CNN.
Royal Thai Police Col. Krisana Patanacharoen added that it was “too early to conclude” who carried out the attacks.
However, he noted that the bombings followed “a similar pattern used in the southern parts of the country.”
AP points out that his comments are “a reference to a low-level insurgency in the country’s Islamic south that has ground on for more than a decade and killed more than 5,000 people.”
“Southern militants fighting for greater autonomy have carried out sophisticated, coordinated attacks before, but most have hit three provinces in the far south that were not among those targeted this week,” adds the news agency.
The United States and other countries have warned its citizens against traveling to the areas affected by the explosions.
According to the American embassy, those areas include the following southern regions in Thailand: Hua Hin district in Prachuap Khiri Khan province as well as the provinces of Phang Nga, Trang, Surat Thani, and Phuket.
AP adds that a bomb also exploded in Krabi province, also located in southern Thailand.
Citing Thai police, the news outlet noted that four of the wounded tourists are from Germany, two from Italy, and one from Austria. The Netherlands reportedly revealed that four to its citizens were injured, bringing the total number of wounded foreigners to 11.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy warns:
U.S. citizens should avoid affected areas; remain aware of surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates. Maintain a high level of vigilance, take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security, and follow instructions of local authorities.
It also notes:
In April 2014, Thai police arrested two individuals with suspected ties to Hezbollah. Additionally, in January 2012, Thai police discovered a large quantity of explosive materials linked to suspected Hezbollah operatives. In February 2012, individuals from Iran—who police believe were plotting a terrorist attack against foreign interests in Thailand—detonated explosive devices on a busy street in central Bangkok while they were trying to evade law enforcement officials.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has also urged the public to remain vigilant while visiting popular tourist destinations, adding that the perpetrators of the recent attacks will be brought to justice.
AP notes, “[T]he violence appeared aimed at undermining the country’s tourism industry, which provides vital income to the government.”