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Security tightened in Bangkok after bank blasts

world Updated: Feb 28, 2010 10:36 IST

Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Sunday ordered security to be tightened in Bangkok after two hand grenades exploded outside branches of the country's biggest bank, causing light damage but no injuries.

Four grenades were hurled at four branches of Bangkok Bank Pcl late on Saturday. Two exploded, damaging telephone booths and bank windows, and two were disposed of safely, Abhisit said during his Sunday morning talk show.

The blasts came a night after Thailand's Supreme Court ruled ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra had enriched himself at the expense of the state during his five years in power, seizing $1.4 billion of his family's $2.3 billion in frozen assets.

The bank has been targeted recently by anti-government protesters and supporters of the twice-elected Thaksin, who was removed in a 2006 military coup and now lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai after being convicted in absentia of graft.

About 1,000 protesters from the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), Thaksin supporters who identify themselves by wearing red shirts, gathered outside the bank's headquarters on Feb. 19, forcing it to shut its doors.

They accuse the bank of crony capitalism for what they see as its ties to Prem Tinsulanonda, a former premier and chief adviser to Thailand's revered king. Prem, a former Bangkok Bank adviser, is also accused of playing a role in the coup against Thaksin.

Jatuporn Prompan, a UDD leader, denied any connection between the "red shirts" and the blasts. "We have nothing to gain from this sort of acts," he told reporters.

Abhisit also denied and political connection.

"I do not believe it has anything to do with (anti-government) protesters," he said, adding he had asked security forces, the police and the military to set up more checkpoints and send out more patrols in Bangkok.