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Bomb blast outside BIG C in BANGKOK

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Old July 25th, 2010, 02:30 PM posted to soc.culture.thai,rec.travel.asia
Obersturmbanfuhrer Olly
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Default Bomb blast outside BIG C in BANGKOK

Bomb wounds 9 in Bangkok on day of by-election

The Associated Press
Sunday, July 25, 2010; 8:34 AM

BANGKOK -- A bomb at a bus stop in downtown Bangkok wounded nine
people Sunday shortly after polls closed in a parliamentary election
that pitted a government candidate against a jailed leader of recent
mass protests in the Thai capital.

Police Maj. Gen. Anuchai Lekbamroong, at the site of the explosion,
declined to speculate whether the bombing was related to Thailand's
continued political turbulence in the wake of the street
demonstrations that paralyzed much of the capital for weeks.

The bomb wounded eight Thai people and one women from Myanmar, the
police officer said. The explosion was near two department stores that
have been closed since they were torched at the climax of the protests
May 19.

"I was selling drinks when I heard an explosion," said Urai Wiengsong,
a street vendor near the bus stop. "Then people started running off in
different directions. I heard men and women scream and shout."

Before the explosion, he said, "People stood at the bus stop, waiting
for buses. It looked normal."

Meanwhile, the government candidate appeared on his way to a narrow
victory over a contender being held in jail on terrorism charges in an
election touted by rival sides as a barometer of Thailand's political
climate, according to preliminary results.

The poll was seen as a test of strength for the Red Shirt movement,
which from March to May staged demonstrations that were finally put
down with lethal force. The protesters had demanded that Prime
Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva dissolve parliament and call a general

In the by-election, Panich Vikitsreth, a vice minister for foreign
affairs with the ruling Democrat Party, so far had 53 percent of the
vote over rival Kokaew Pikulthong, an imprisoned Red Shirt leader,
unofficial results from the Election Commission said. The results
represented about half of the ballots counted.

An exit poll by Suan Dusit polling company indicated that Panich would
emerge the winner.

Kokaew had to campaign from his prison cell, where he is held on
terrorism charges for his alleged role in the violent end to the
protests. He was contesting a vacant seat in the House of
Representatives for the opposition Pheu Thai Party.

"This by-election is Bangkok residents' referendum on the government,"
said Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit before the election. The
Democrats made a similar statement.

Thailand has been in a state of political turmoil since 2006, when a
coup ousted then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was popular
among the rural and urban poor. Since then, his supporters and
opponents have staged a bitter struggle for power.

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