The moment a bomb exploded outside a busy shopping centre in Thailand has been caught on video.
Shoppers had already been evacuated from the Big C mall in Pattani after attackers set off firecrackers inside.
Pramote Prom-in, a spokesperson for the Thai military, said they were believed to be a distraction ahead of a car bomb detonated outside the entrance.
Footage showed a huge fireball explode as shoppers held back by police turned and ran for their lives, with the sound of children crying heard in the panic.
No deaths were immediately reported but Pattani Hospital said at least 52 injured people were being treated, with two in a critical condition.
The attack was blamed on separatist groups who have been waging a bloody insurgency in southern Thailand for more than a decade.
Islamist militias linked to al-Qaeda are among those fighting and launching terror attacks in three Muslim-majority provinces, where more than 6,500 people have been killed since 2004.
Rewat Srichantub, Pattani's deputy police chief, blamed Islamist insurgents for the latest attack and said the bomber was believed to have fled the scene before the blast.
Attacks in mainly Buddhist Thailand's southernmost provinces, near the border with Malaysia, have intensified this year, with six army rangers killed in an attack last month.
Pattani has repeatedly been hit by waves of violence, including twin bombings in August.
Prawit Wongsuwan, the defence ministry in Thailand’s military junta, claimed that attack was not related to a string of attacks on tourist hotspots including Hua Hin and Phuket.
The government, which came into power in a 2014 coup, recently rejected a conditional offer for peace talks from one of the main insurgent groups, the Barisan Revolusi Nasional, which had demanded international mediation or observation.
Martial law has been imposed in the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and parts of Songkhla since 2006, allowing security forces to detain suspects without charge, censor the media, conduct searches and seize documents.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against “all but essential travel” to the region, while warning that further terror attacks are “very likely” in Thailand.
“Bomb and grenade attacks have been indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners,” its advice states.
“Since 2004, there have been almost daily attacks in the far south of the country, including arson, bombings and shootings.
“Targets have included civilians and members of the security forces, government offices, tourist hotels, discos, bars, shops, marketplaces, supermarkets, schools, transport infrastructure and trains.”
Additional reporting by agencies
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