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Thai police warn of Bangkok bomb plot

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Police in Thailand said on Tuesday that they have increased security at major landmarks in the capital Bangkok, at airports and in surrounding provinces following reports of bomb plots just weeks after deadly attacks rocked the country’s south.

An armed group was plotting car bomb attacks in a province near Bangkok, Thailand’s national security head said.

“The deputy prime minister instructed security agencies to closely track and monitor anything unusual including things used to prepare bombs and cars,” General Thawip Netniyom, chief of National Security Council, told reporters.

“Why target Bangkok? They probably want to make an impact,” he said, without giving details on which groups could be behind the plot.

Popular tourist destination Thailand has seen a series of bomb attacks in the country’s south over the past few weeks, including a wave of bombs in tourist towns between Aug 11-12 that killed four Thai people and injured dozens, including foreigners.

Police have linked the attacks to Muslim separatists operating in Thailand’s far south.

Security chief Thawip said he was not sure whether the planned car bombs and the August attacks were related.

Thailand’s tourism industry, which accounts for 10 per cent of gross domestic product, has weathered more than a decade of unrest including two military coups and the recent bombings.

Britain’s Foreign Office advised travelers to exercise caution following the August bombings. “You should exercise caution, particularly in public places … Further incidents are possible in these and other areas of Thailand,” the Foreign Office said.

In August 2015, a bomb ripped through a religious shrine in Bangkok killing 20 people, most of them tourists. But the attack failed to dent tourist arrivals to any discernable degree.