The blast, which the government believed was aimed at damaging economy and tourism, occurred inside Erawan Shrine dedicated to Lord Brahma in the downtown Chidlom district, creating panic as people fled the place where cars and motorcycles exploded in the impact.

National police chief Somyot Pumpanmuang put the death toll at 16 but Thai TV placed it at 27. More deaths were feared because of the huge number of injured. Of the four foreigners dead, two have been identified as Chinese and a Philipino.

However, there were no reports of any Indian casualties in the explosions that caused a huge amount of chaos, with body parts and glass panes scattered everywhere.

An improvised explosive device fastened to a utility pole inside the Erawan shrine complex at the Ratchaprasong intersection detonated at 6.55pm. The Rajprasong intersection has been the centre of political demonstrations in recent years.

The temple is located on a main road through Bangkok's commercial hub and is surrounded by three major shopping malls and big hotels of international chains. It is among Bangkok's most popular tourist attractions visited by East Asian tourists and local Buddhists.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack. Suspicion revolves around the hand of Muslim separatists in the South and political factions in Bangkok fighting for power.

Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwong said, "It was a TNT bomb... the people who did it targeted foreigners and to damage tourism and the economy."

 

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