Letter from Eric Arnow
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Eric Arnow has his own web site now. For years I've been putting his letters from Asia here. From now on they'll go on his site, the Bumble Buddhist which also now has all the previous ones from cuke and photos more. - dc
12-31-06 - I am OK, but still concerned
Last night I went for a small dinner party with 4 Swiss and another American. A very pleasant evening, but we stayed quite late--2:30 AM, and couldn't find a taxi home.
We went onto the street and fortunately got a motorcycle cab typical here, to take 4 of us home. The streets were almost empty. One of my friends, Ingalore, told me she had had an unsettling dream the night before about an earthquake, similar to a dream she had just before 911, in which she had dreamt about airplanes flying around NY City.
Neither of us thought too much about it but when I got up, she called me to say that some bombs had gone off in Bangkok.
I am fine, I had no idea anything had happened, but I am certainly concerned.
Here is a Bangkok Post article about it.
Update: 'Stay at home today'
Bangkok (dpa) - A spate of New Year's Eve bombings in Bangkok, including two set off shortly after midnight, killed at least three people and injured 36 others including six foreigners, Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin and hospital sources said Monday.
Altogether seven bombs were detonated in Bangkok and one in nearby Nonthaburi province on Sunday and early Monday, Apirak said.
In the first spate of attacks, six bombs and grenades were set off Sunday evening shortly after 6 p.m., killing two Thais and injuring about 25 people. A third victim died in hospital on Monday.
Two more bombs were detonated shortly after midnight near the Central World Plaza department store in Bangkok, where a New Year's countdown had been planned but cancelled.
Bangkok authorities issued warnings to revellers to cancel their New Year's Eve celebrations shortly after the first spate of attacks. Public countdowns for the New Year were cancelled at Sanam Luang and the Central World Plaza.
A bomb set off minutes after midnight at the Best Seafood restaurant near Central World Plaza ripped off the leg of one foreigner and injured three others along with two Thais, according to the Bangkok Post online.
A second bomb was detonated at Central World Plaza near the spot where a New Year's Eve public party had been scheduled.
Authorities said the second explosion wounded both foreigners and Thais passing by.
All those injured in the World Central Plaza vicinity were taken to the nearby Bangkok Police Hospital.
According to hospital sources the injured included two British nationals, two Serbians, one Irish national and one Hungarian. Their names were not immediately available.
Two other bombs were reportedly defused by police before they exploded, including one at a bar on Khao Sarn Road, the capital's most popular place for budget travellers.
"We still don't know who was behind the bombings," said Apirak, who advised people to stay home unless it was necessary to go out on Monday, a public holiday. The governor said a meeting was scheduled Monday morning with Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont to discuss the attacks.
The six bombs that went off earlier Sunday were placed at busy Victory Monument, near a Chinese temple in Klong Toey, two police traffic box at Sukhumvit Soi 62 and another in Nonthaburi, behind the Seacon Square shopping mall in eastern Bangkok and at a Tesco supermarket.
Initial speculation was that the bombs were either the work of Muslim rebels from Thailand's troubled deep south or of groups opposed to the current military-installed government after a junta ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on September 19.
Political analysts were more inclined to blame the bombs on disgruntled supporters of Thaksin than on Muslim militants, arguing that the coordinated attacks were beyond the operational capacity of the southern separatists who have in the past limited their activities to Thailand's three southernmost provinces.
Panithan Wathanayakorn, a political scientist at Bangkok's prestigious Chulalongkorn University and a leading expert on the deep South, said that setting off bombs in Bangkok would mark a major shift in the separatists' strategy.
Until now, despite three years of carnage that have left 1,900 people dead, the southern terrorists have made few attempts to operate outside their three Muslim-majority provinces next to the border with Malaysia.
Panithan said a second possibility was that the attacks were the handiwork of political opponents of the current "interim" government, put in place by the Thai military after to toppled Thaksin, a billionaire businessman whose populist policies and autocratic rule has sharply divided Thailand.
Thaksin, who held the premiership between 2001 and 2006, is in exile and is reportedly seeking to return to Thailand to fight several court cases against family members and his political associates.
Thus far the military and Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont have blocked his return, arguing that it would further destabilize the political situation. Thaksin's family fortune is estimated at 2 to 3 billion dollars, giving him considerable clout in Thailand where "money politics" tends to rule.
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