BANGKOK, Thailand – Police explosive experts defused a bomb hidden in a car near the residence of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and detained a suspect Thursday, police said.
"The bomb experts have defused the bomb and the car is being towed to a safe place for further checking," said Police Maj. Pracha Noomnak.
An army officer identified as Lt. Thawatchai Klinchana was detained and taken to the police Crime Suppression Division for interrogation, he said.
Maj. Gen. Aswin Khwanmuang, deputy chief of the Central Investigation Bureau, said a 10-pound (4.5-kilogram) bomb was found in the car belonging to Thawatchai, along with two sticks of dynamite each weighing one pound (0.45 kilograms) and some fertilizer.
Police said the vehicle was driven back and forth near Thaksin's residence and a security guard for the prime minister urged police to chase and stop it.
Interior Minister Kongsak Wantana said on Tuesday that he had intelligence about a plot to harm the prime minister, who has been the target of peaceful protests since late last year. He has been accused of corruption and abuse of power.
The confrontation has resulted in an ongoing political impasse, bitter divisions in Thai society and legal entanglements. An October election, some analysts say, may put the country back on course.
Government spokesman Surapong Suebwonglee said Thaksin reacted calmly to the report of the bomb but fired Gen. Pallop Pinmanee, deputy chief of the Internal Security Operations Command, because Thawatchai had served under him.
"This is the attempt of a group of people to harm the prime minister. The group has lost power, lost benefits," the spokesman said.
"The prime minister is not afraid but the government is imposing measures to prevent such unwanted incidents," he said, without elaborating.