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12 dead as bomb rocks Thai shrine popular with tourists

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NBC News – BANGKOK — A bomb on a motorcycle exploded on Monday just outside a major tourist attraction in the Thai capital, killing at least 12 people and injuring 78 others.

The blast was near the Erawan shrine at a major Bangkok intersection, police said.

Authorities confirmed they were looking for other bombs and said they had found one suspicious object.

Police said the bomb had killed 12 people and wounded 78, many of whom were taken to the nearby police hospital.

"The perpetrators intended to destroy the economy and tourism because the incident occurred in the heart of the tourism district," Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told Reuters.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Thai forces are fighting a low-level Muslim insurgency in the predominantly Buddhist country's south, although those rebels have rarely launched attacks outside their ethnic Malay heartland.

The country has also been riven for a decade by intense and sometimes violent rivalry between political factions in Bangkok and elsewhere.

The army has ruled Thailand since May 2014, when it ousted an elected government after months of, at times, violent anti-government protests.

Located on a busy corner near top hotels, shopping centers and offices, the Erawan shrine is a major tourist attraction, especially for visitors from East Asia. Many ordinary Thais also worship there.