Hand grenade blast kills child, 3 others at concert

MAHA SARAKHAM : Four people, including two police and a 12-year-old boy, were killed and more than 50 injured by a hand grenade explosion during a concert in Na Dun district yesterday, police said.

Police were called to disperse a scuffle between groups of local men attending the concert by Ponglang Sa-orn, a famous Isan percussion contemporary group.

It was held as part of a festival celebrating Phra That Na Dun, a temple enshrining Lord Buddha's relics.

One of the men, identified as Winai Jeknam, 32, held aloft a hand grenade. He ran from the crowd and police tried to persuade him to hand over the device.

The officers tried to seize the grenade from the man but it fell on the ground.

The grenade bounced and then exploded, witnesses said.

The explosion killed four people instantly and injured more than 50 others.

Those killed were Pol Snr Sgt Maj Weerayut Kongprakom, Pol Sgt Maj Padet Singsanan, Sonthichai Thinburan, and Theerakan Panamathung, 12.

Pol Col Kritchai Saruamsri, superintendent of Na Dun police station, said the boy was visiting the festival with his parents.

The provincial public health office said 58 people, mostly fair-goers, were injured, five of them seriously.

One of the victims was referred to Khon Kaen regional hospital.

The rest of the injured were being treated at Maka Sarakham provincial hospital, Na Dun Hospital and Wapee Pathum Hospital in Maha Sarakham.

Pol Maj Gen Charoenwit Sriwanit, chief of Maka Sarakham police, said the blast from the M67 grenade left a hole almost a metre deep in the ground.

Mr Winai, who was among the injured, was a military conscript who was arrested previously on charges of trespassing on property and possessing a firearm.

He also exhibited a mental disorder, Pol Maj Gen Charoenwit said.

Police were still investigating the motive for the attack, but suspect it was part of an ongoing dispute between rival gangs in the province.

Somporn Rattanaprai, manager of Ponglang Sa-orn, said one of the band's crew members was hurt in the explosion.

Eed Ponglang Sa-orn, the leader of the band, was unharmed, Mr Somporn said.