Residential area becomes warzone

Residential area becomes warzone

Residents and workers near the site of the three bomb blasts in central Bangkok described scenes of bedlam, while neighbours spoke of the quiet but apparently busy nature of the suspected bombers in their midst.

Da Klongdan, 34, who lives opposite the two-storey house where the first explosion occurred around 2.20pm, said four foreigners _ three men and one woman _ frequently went in and out of the building.

They routinely left the house, on Soi Pridi Banomyong 31, off Sukhumvit Soi 71 in the Ekamai area, at 10am or 1pm, and would be gone for about 30 minutes each time.

After the first blast, which ripped off the roof of the house, Ms Da said she saw two fair-skinned foreigners _ one wearing a white top and calf-length trousers, the other a blue shirt and jeans and carrying a bag _ rushing out of the building. They left in a taxi.

Five minutes after that, another fair-skinned man walked out carrying a backpack and two boxes. His face was bleeding.

He tried to flag down a taxi but none would pick him up because of the blood. The man, later identified as Saeid Moradi, threw a grenade onto the street close to a taxi driven by Sanchai Boonsoongnern.

Mr Sanchai, who was slightly injured, said it landed on the bonnet, then fell below his car and exploded.

"I saw he was the man who threw the bomb, so I told people to chase him. I ran after him," said Mr Sanchai.

"Once he reached the entrance of Sukhumvit Soi 71, he tried to wave down some cars but no-one picked him up. Then police came by."

Mr Sanchai, who suffered a wound to his face from broken glass in the blast, said the suspect pulled something out of his pocket.

He did not see exactly what happened but another blast followed which blew off Mr Moradi's legs.

Naris Laddathao, a security guard at a nearby school, also witnessed the third blast.

He said after the second explosion he saw a foreigner with a bloody face walking on Soi Pridi Banomyong 31.

Mr Naris said he saw people pointing at the man and shouting: "Get him, get him!" A police car approached and the man tried to throw a bomb at the officers but it bounced back towards him and exploded, blowing off his legs.

Kamala Sanangkul, 43, lives just 20m from the rented house where the first blast took place. She said that after a loud explosion, thick smoke poured into her house. She ran outside and saw two Middle Eastern-looking men carrying backpacks and artificial roses walking away from the scene.

"I went back inside the house and saw a lot of broken glass. Then I saw another man with a backpack run off. He was carrying something with a blinking light in his hand. He had a wound on his head," Ms Kamala said.

Asanee Chunhakasikarn, 72, whose home is next to the suspects' house, said they had moved in about two months ago and lived quietly.

"I am so shocked to learn there were bombs in the house next to mine," he said. "How can something like this happen here?"

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