After two bombings this week in the Thai capital of Bangkok left several dead, injured and fearful of other attacks, Pope Francis offered his condolences and prayers to the victims and their families. “His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life caused by the attack at the Erawan Hindu Shrine and of the threat to life and property caused by the bombing at the Sathorn Pier,” said an Aug. 19 letter, signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. Addressed to the king of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, the letter expressed the Pope’s “heartfelt solidarity” both with the king and all those affected by the violent acts. “Mindful of the security and emergency personnel who are seeking the perpetrators of these crimes, while also assisting the injured, their families and those of the deceased, His Holiness offers the assurance of his prayers and invokes the divine blessings of peace and healing upon the Kingdom.” On Monday evening around 7p.m. local time what police have identified as a pipe bomb exploded at Bangkok’s Erawan Hindu Shrine. It sits near a busy intersection, and it was in the middle rush hour when the bomb went off, according to the Guardian. In the deadliest attack Thailand has seen in years, the blast has so far killed at least 22 and left 123 others injured. According to the BBC, although of the victims of Monday's attack were mostly Thai, foreigners from China, Hong Kong, the UK, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore were also numbered among those killed. A second pipe bomb went off at Bangkok’s Sathorn Pier Tuesday, however the device landed in the water, doing no damage. It is believed that the aggressor had intended to thrown the bomb onto the busy walking platform leading to the pier, but missed. Instead, the device bounced off a post and landed in the Sathorn canal, where it detonated harmlessly in the water. So far no one has claimed responsibility for either of the attacks, however police believe they could be related, and have released a sketch of the man they think could be responsible for Monday’s blast, the BBC reports. The image is of a man in a yellow shirt caught on camera sitting on a bench and taking off a large, black backpack inside the shrine before standing up and walking away without it. Local authorities have said they believe the bomber may have accomplices and are offering a 1 million baht ($28,100) reward for anyone able to provide information leading to the man’s arrest.
According to the Guardian, the attacks are a test for Thailand’s military-run administration, who ousted the former, elected government in May 2014. The military has been fighting a Muslim insurgency in the south, however it is rare that the militants launch attacks of this scale in the capital. Bangkok’s last major bombing took place New Year’s Eve at the close of 2006, when three people were killed in a series of explosions.