Sunday, July 14, 2013

Another Roadside Bomb

A soldier inspects the scene of a roadside bomb in Yala. Eight soldiers were injured in the blast.

We were finishing up at the school in Pattani Thursday when we got word of an IED attack on an army patrol in Yala, the province next to Pattani. We drove out to the site of the attack, which was eerily similar to the attack we photographed Monday. A truck carrying a teacher protection detail back to their camp drove over a large bomb planted beneath the roadbed. Eight soldiers in the truck were injured and hospitalized. The attackers melted away. 
A soldier photographs the scene with his iPhone, which he carries in a "Hello Kitty" holster.

This attack was a little different though. The road crossed a railway track and the explosion damaged not only the road but also the tracks, severing rail service between Yala and the Malaysian border. And this attack happened very close to a Muslim village. There were several homes and a mosque across the highway, about 25 meters from the blast site. The bombers burrowed underneath the roadbed and planted the bomb, which was inside cooking gas can. They remotely detonated their explosive as the truck drove over it. (Monday's attack took place on an isolated stretch of road about a kilometer from a village.)  
Thai soldiers stack their colleagues' gear and weapons after the attack.

I am always amazed at the access Thai authorities give the media at these scenes. The EOD unit ("bomb squad") was still working the scene of Monday's attack when we got there and we were allowed to watch from less than 100 meters back. We were allowed on scene to photograph as soon as EOD finished clearing the area. Crime scene technicians were still collecting evidence when we got up to the crater. 

We got to Thursday's scene a little later because it was a much further away. Crime scene techs were still collecting evidence and soldiers still maintaining a rather porous security perimeter when we got out there. Officers and soldiers on site gave us freedom of movement and didn't interfere with our photography or news gathering. Covering spot news like this in the US is completely different. The media is kept back, way back, from any sort of an active scene. I have to admit, I much prefer the Thai way. 

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