Grenade blasts do little damage to Thai banks

BANGKOK: Two grenades exploded outside branches of Thailand’s biggest

bank, police said today, after a

court verdict against deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra sparked a security alert.

Another two unexploded grenades were defused at Bangkok Bank branches, said police, adding that none of the incidents late yesterday had caused any casualties.

The first blast shattered the windows and doors of the Bangkok Bank branch in the Silom business district of the Thai capital, police spokesman Major General Piya Uthay said. The second caused similar damage to a branch in Samut Prakarn, about 30 kilometres outside Bangkok, and also damaged several telephone booths, police said. The unexploded grenades were both found at branches of the bank in Bangkok.

Thai authorities said yesterday they were on high alert after the Supreme Court a day earlier confiscated $1.4 billion of Thaksin’s fortune for abuse of power. Hundreds of protesters from the “Red Shirt” movement loyal to Thaksin surrounded Bangkok Bank’s headquarters one week before the verdict, forcing it to close for the day.

They said the bank has links to chief royal adviser and former prime minister Prem Tinsulanonda, whom they accuse of masterminding the 2006 military coup that toppled Thaksin. Current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the government had predicted unrest after the court ruling on Thaksin’s wealth.

“The incidents were expected after the verdict. They are the actions of a small group of people who want to create unrest,” Abhisit said in his weekly television broadcast.