Three bomb blasts in Bangkok this week trained the spotlight on Thailand, an unpleasant development in a country that sells itself as a safe destination for tourists.
Tourism is a major industry in Thailand so it is easy to understand why police, defense and security officials have been quick to rule out the series of explosions on February 14 as part of terror attacks for fear foreign visitors might stay away.
But the Nation newspaper says officials need to “wake up and admit the truth”, rather than play the incidents down.
Three Iranians were arrested in Thailand and Malaysia following the explosions in a Bangkok residential area. The first bomb went off accidentally in an apartment being rented by the suspects, police reports say. The second was hurled at a cab that refused to take one of the suspects, while the third wounded the bomber himself.
The blasts came a day after two separate incidents targeting Israeli diplomats occurred in India and Georgia. The string of incidents in the Thai capital prompted the embassies of the United States, the United Kingdom and several other countries to issue warnings to their citizens against travel to the country.
But Thailand seems to be in denial just to protect the tourist industry, the Nation says in an editorial. “No matter how the officials try to spin it, this story of clownish assassins running around Bangkok, tossing deadly explosives at taxi-drivers and police officers, does not make us feel at ease.”
Police also reject links between the latest incidents involving the Iranian nationals and the arrest last month in Bangkok of a Lebanese man for alleged possession of explosives.
“Excuse us, but two high-profile incidents involving Middle-Eastern terrorist suspects within two months should be considered a cause for concern,” the editorial concludes.