BUKIT KAYU HITAM - The Thai border towns of Danok, Padang Besar and Sadao were rocked by pre-Christmas bombings, leaving a horrifying trail of mangled metal, burning vehicles and bloodied limbs and bodies.
Thousands of Malaysians and other tourists had gathered in the towns for shopping and Christmas partying but the series of bomb blasts left both Thais and the tourists jittery in an area where such violence has rarely been seen.
Two Malaysians were reported to be among scores of people injured in a bomb blast that rocked Danok, Padang Besar and Sadao between 11.30am and 1.40pm. Two Thais were also killed in the blasts.
Malaysian authorities moved quickly to tighten security along the border.
"People should not be worried but I advise those who have business in the area to just be wary," said Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Mohd Zinin.
The first explosion occurred between 10.30am and 10.40am when a bomb placed on a motorcycle exploded in front of the Padang Besar police station on the Thai side of the border. Five motorcycles were damaged but no one was injured.
The second bomb exploded at about the same time. It was also placed on a motorcycle and went off in front of the Sadao police station. No one was injured.
The third and fourth explosions occurred at about 12.30pm. More than 20 people were injured.
The third bomb went off in front of the Oliver Hotel. It was placed in a car and activated with a digital watch. The explosions also resulted in a fire, which destroyed the business premises, several vehicles as well as a part of the hotel.
The fourth bomb was set off in front of a shop in Bukit Kayu Hitam on the Thai side of the border.