UPDATE: '16 dead' after large explosion near Bangkok shrine

UPDATE (5.10pm): An explosion at a popular shrine near a key political protest site in central Bangkok, has reportedly killed at least 16 people and injured dozens of others, officials said.

UPDATE: '16 dead' after large explosion near Bangkok shrine

UPDATE (5.10pm): An explosion at a popular shrine near a key political protest site in central Bangkok, has reportedly killed at least 16 people and injured dozens of others, officials said.

The bomb exploded inside the Erawan Shrine, an area frequented by thousands of tourists, office workers and shoppers, national police chief Somyot Poompummuang said.

He said officials initially believed that a second bomb had been found in a bag nearby, but that it had been determined to be harmless.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bomb, which police said was made from a pipe wrapped in cloth.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene said he saw one body and body parts. A reporter for the television station Thai PBS said he counted 12 bodies at the scene.

The explosion took place at the Rajprasong intersection, which has been the centre of many contentious political demonstrations in recent years.

It appeared to have occurred in front of the Erawan Shrine, a tourist landmark also popular with Thais.

Thailand’s capital has been relatively peaceful since a military coup ousted a civilian government in May last year after several months of sometimes violent political protests against the previous government.

However, there has been some tension in recent months as the ruling junta has made clear it may not hold elections until 2017 and wants a constitution that will allow some type of emergency rule to take the place of an elected government.

Car bombs are almost unknown in Bangkok, but have been used in southern Thailand, where a Muslim separatist insurgency has been flaring for several years.

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