Thai Carbomb Attack on Eve of Elections

Posted July 2nd, 2011 at 10:55 am (UTC-5)
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A car bomb has exploded in southern Thailand as the country prepares for elections on Sunday.

A bomb squad officer was inspecting the car at the time in Narathiwat province. He was thrown to the ground, but was able to get up and move away from the blast scene.

Violent incidents are common in much of southern Thailand, which has a large Muslim population. Most attacks have been attributed to radical groups trying to break away from the majority-Buddhist nation.

Campaigning for the general election had come to a halt before the explosion on Saturday.

Opinion polls point to a big vote Sunday for opposition leader Yingluck Shinawatra, younger sister of deposed former government leader Thaksin Shinawatra. Surveys show her ahead of the incumbent prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, but analysts say Yingluck Shinawatra's personal popularity does not guarantee her a parliamentary majority.

Thailand has been deeply divided since the kingdom's military staged a bloodless coup that ousted Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006. These elections will be the nation's first since anti-government protests by the former prime minister's supporters last year led to clashes in which more than 90 people died.