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Mini blasts in Thailand rattle Asean's summit

Mini blasts in Thailand rattle Asean
Highlights

2 arrested with inactive devices near police headquarters.

Bangkok: Two men from Thailand's insurgency-hit "Deep South" were arrested linked to several small bomb attacks that rattled Bangkok on Friday as it hosted a regional summit attended by US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, leaving four people wounded but not disrupting the diplomatic event.

Thailand remains deeply divided after a controversial March election returned a junta to power as a civilian government.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who led the former junta, told repor-ters "there were nine successful or attempted explosions... we haven't ruled out any motives."

Two men from the far south were arrested after wires and ball bearings were found in an inactive device outside Thai police headquarters late on Thursday, in what police said was a linked incident.

Police chief Jakthip Chaijinda confirmed the men came the Muslim-majority area bordering Malaysia which is in the grip of a 15-year insurgency. But he said it was "too early" to clearly tie them with the rebellion.

Any connection to the insurgency will cause deep alarm in Bangkok, which has failed to win peace in a conflict which has left more than 7,000 dead. Occasionally the shadowy rebel cells take their violence outside their region to mark key anniversaries or kickback against specific Thai actions. Outrage is boiling in the south over the treatment of a 34-year-old rebel suspect who was left in a coma hours after being taken into a notorious military interrogation centre in Pattani province.

The blasts in Bangkok appeared to be symbolic to embarrass the government during a major summit but not designed to cause mass casualties.

Small devices — some believed to be so-called "ping pong bombs" around the size of a table tennis ball — exploded at several locations across the city, none close to the summit venue.

Officials said four people were wounded.

"Reports are they were 'ping pong bombs' hidden in bushes by the road," said Renu Suesattaya, director of Suanluang district where the first bombs were reported.

Two further explosions shattered glass near a well-known downtown skyscraper, emergency police added. Bomb disposal experts were deployed around the Mahanakorn Tower — owned by the King Power group that counts Leicester City football club among its assets.

Most of the dead in the highly-localised insurgency in the south are civilians, but the conflict garners few international headlines. Malay-Muslim militants are fighting for autonomy from Thailand that annexed the region over a century ago.

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