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Carnage in Thailand

HUA HIN, Thailand (AFP) – A string of bomb attacks hit popular tourist towns across Thailand, leaving four dead and many injured, with authorities on Friday ruling out terrorism despite suspicions that insurgents in the kingdom’s deep south are responsible.

In the normally peaceful resort town of Hua Hin, blood-spattered tourists were given first aid by rescue workers as forensics teams picked through the rubble, with police in Bangkok scrambling to reassure visitors the situation was under control.

“This is not a terrorist attack. It is just local sabotage that is restricted to limited areas and provinces,” national police deputy spokesman Piyapan Pingmuang told reporters in Bangkok.

Analysts said Muslim insurgent groups in the south could be behind the attack, but warned that coordinated bombings targeting tourists would mark an unprecedented escalation in a simmering conflict largely contained in the border region.

Twin bombs exploded in the upscale resort of Hua Hin late Thursday, killing one woman and wounding more than 20 others, including nine foreign tourists.

They were followed by two more explosions on Friday morning that killed another person and left injured and bleeding people lying on pavements as emergency workers rushed to the scene.

A further two blasts struck Friday at Patong Beach on the popular tourist island of Phuket while three more were reported further south – two in the southern town of Surat Thani, killing one, and one more blast in Trang, which also left one person dead.

“The bombs are an attempt to create chaos and confusion,” Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha told reporters as he called for calm.

Small bombings are common in the kingdom during periods of heightened political tension but there have been few such incidents in the past year and it is rare for tourists to be targeted.