BANGKOK (Reuters) - Two small bombs outside a Bangkok shopping mall over the weekend will have a minimal impact on Thailand’s vital tourism industry, the prime minister said on Tuesday, while promising better security to avoid any more such incidents.
Two people were slightly injured in the twin explosions on Sunday outside the Siam Paragon mall in a busy shopping district, the first blasts in Bangkok since the military seized power on May 22 to end months of sometimes deadly street protests.
“The tourism ministry told the cabinet that the explosion will have a minimal impact on tourism,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters.
“However, we must look after the security situation better to ensure this does not happen again.”
Thailand’s tourist sector accounts for about 10 percent of the economy. It was hit last year by a drawn-out political crisis, including protests in which nearly 30 people were killed, that culminated in the coup.
The military-led government has struggled to revive growth in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy as exports are sluggish and consumer demand remains subdued.
The explosions come at a politically sensitive time, just over a week after a junta-appointed assembly banned ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from politics for five years, something that has left many of her supporters fuming.
The country remains under martial and military leaders say they have no plans to lift it.
There was no claim of responsibility and the military said the blasts appeared to have been aimed at creating panic.
Police said they were trying to identify two suspicious-looking people caught on CCTV footage.
Prayuth dismissed talk that the army was behind the blasts as a way to justify martial law.
“Anyone who believes that has brain damage,” he said.
Additional reporting by Aukkarapon Niyomyat; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Robert Birsel