Four days after the referendum on the military-initiated constitution, Thailand's major tourist destinations in the south fell prey to coordinated bombings and arson attacks. On Aug. 11 and 12, seven southern provinces, including well-known holiday havens like Phuket and Phang-nga, became targets of terrorism. On Aug. 23, twin blasts took place in front of a hotel in the southern town of Pattani. The deadly blasts were caused by car bombs.
The latest acts of terrorism killed five people and injured 77 others, becoming ones of the most serious terrorist attacks since the eruption of a separatist insurgency 12 years ago. The proximate timing between the referendum and the attacks conveniently allowed the military government of Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha to exploit the tragedy to undermine political opponents.
Immediately after the incidents, apologists for the junta condemned both former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his supporters in the Red Shirt camp for masterminding the terrorist attacks. They claimed that the public approval of the constitution through the referendum immensely upset the Thaksin faction. To retaliate, Thaksin, allegedly, instigated coordinated attacks to discredit the junta. Denying the allegation, Thaksin filed defamatory charges against those accusing him of being behind the unlawful incidents.