Seven hurt as car bomb hits Thai tourist island

By Geraldine Lassalle ,AFP

KOH SAMUI, Thailand — A car bomb on the Thai resort island of Samui has wounded seven people, including an Italian girl, police said Saturday, in a further blow to the country’s tarnished reputation as a top tourist destination. The bomb, packed inside a Mazda pick-up truck with false number plates, was detonated remotely by mobile phone late Friday in the underground car park of the Central Festival mall, sending late-night shoppers running for safety. Police said the car had been stolen on March 31 from Yala, one of Thailand’s three southernmost Muslim-majority provinces that have been scorched by a 10-year insurgency in which more than 6,300 people have been killed. ��It’s a car bomb but we cannot confirm what type of explosive materials they used,�� Thai national police spokesman Lieutenant General Prawut Thavornsiri told AFP. ��The car used was a Mazda pick-up truck stolen from Yala,�� he added, without specifying whether the blast was believed to be linked to the conflict hundreds of kilometers away. Six Thais and a 12-year-old Italian girl were treated for minor injuries and were all released from hospital, according to Poonsak Sophonsasmorong of the island’s disaster prevention office. Thai police have previously been accused of leaping to conclusions in the immediate aftermath of high-profile incidents. They came under fire during the probe into the murder of two British backpackers on Koh Tao island last year for bungling the initial investigation and leaking erroneous information to the media.