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Small bomb explodes outside Bangkok cinema near site of New Year's bombing

A small bomb exploded just before midnight outside a Bangkok movie theater, one of several spots targeted during a spate of still-unsolved deadly New Year's Eve bombings, police said Tuesday.

No one was hurt in the Monday evening explosion, which occurred at about 11:20 p.m. (1620 GMT) outside the Major Cineplex Ratchayothin shopping complex, said police Lt. Col. Thanakorn Kornkaew. The blast damaged three streetside telephone booths.

The movie theater was one of the sites targeted by nine bombs that exploded across Bangkok on New Year's Eve, killing three people and wounding more than 40.

The blast was likely to renew worries about public security ahead of the Thai traditional New Year's holiday at the end of the week.

There were no claims of responsibility for Monday's explosion, which police believed was not meant to cause fatalities, said police Lt. Gen. Jongrak Jutanont, the national police chief.

"It was meant to threaten and cause confusion," Jongrak said. He described the bomb as a "noisemaker" packed with gunpowder but no nails or other sharp objects. "Police are investigating, but we have not yet been able to pinpoint a motive."

Prakit Prachonpatjanuk, secretary-general of the National Security Council, said that initial investigations indicated that the bombing might have been the result of a personal conflict and did not appear to be linked to Muslim insurgent violence in Thailand's deep south.

The New Year's Eve bombings stunned Bangkok, which had never experienced an organized terrorist attack directed at the public. There was intense debate over who may have been responsible for those blasts.

The military originally blamed supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in a bloodless coup last September.

Officials have also suggested the attacks were the work of Islamic separatists, who have been waging a bloody insurgency in southern Thailand and frequently carry out small deadly bombings.

Police and the military-installed government have faced criticism for failing to solve the bombings.

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