Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha (R) inspects the police guard at a ceremony at the police headquarters in Bangkok on August 2, 2019, after several small bombs exploded across the capital. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)

BANGKOK, – Several small bombs exploded across Bangkok on Friday, rattling the Thai capital as it hosted a regional summit attended by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and leaving four people wounded but not disrupting the diplomatic event.

Thailand, which has a grim history of political violence, remains deeply divided after a controversial March election returned a junta to power as a civilian government.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who led the junta, blamed the bombs on “ill-intended people inciting violence” to “destroy peace and the country’s image”, while top Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) diplomats and their US and Chinese counterparts are in town.

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Small devices — believed to be so-called “ping pong bombs” around the size of a table tennis ball — exploded at several locations across the city, all far from the summit venue.

Urging the public not to panic, Prayut said security had been tightened across the capital.

The blasts appeared to be symbolic attacks aimed at embarrassing the government during the major summit but not designed to cause mass casualties.

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“Three people received slight injuries from shrapnel,” said Renu Suesattaya, director of Suanluang district where the first bombs were reported.

“I received a report that they are ‘ping pong bombs’ hidden in bushes by the road.”

An emergency service hotline later said a fourth person had been hospitalised.

Two further explosions shattered glass near a well-known downtown skyscraper, emergency police added.

Bomb disposal experts were deployed around the Mahanakorn Tower — owned by the King Power group that counts Leicester City football club among its assets. (AFP)

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