Updated: 12/23/2013 18:00 | By Agence France-Presse

Makeshift car bomb defused in Thailand's Phuket

Thai authorities defused a makeshift car bomb found near a police station on the popular tourist island of Phuket, an official said Monday.

Makeshift car bomb defused in Thailand's Phuket

This picture taken on February 14, 2013 shows tourists on Patong beach in Phuket, southern Thailand

The device was found on Sunday after the authorities searched a suspicious vehicle left in the car park of a police station on the island.

The "bomb was found hidden in a pick-up truck which was stolen a few months ago," Phuket Provincial Police Commander Ong-Art Piuruengnon told AFP by telephone.

"A bomb disposal team defused it and found that it was unable to explode," he added.

While bombings are common in Thailand's insurgency-plagued deep south near the border with Malaysia, it is believed to be the first time that a car bomb has been found in Phuket, which is popular with foreign tourists.

Police declined to give details about the type of explosives discovered and it was unclear who left the device.

Muslim militants have waged a near-decade-long insurgency in Thailand's southernmost provinces but they are not known to have targeted Western tourists.

More than 20 people were wounded Sunday when a car bomb went off near a hotel in the southern province of Songkhla.

Shadowy insurgents have waged near-daily bomb and gun attacks, targeting security forces and civilians from both the Buddhist and Muslim communities in a conflict has left more than 5,700 people dead.

Thailand's tourist-friendly image as the "Land of Smiles" has been tested in recent years by political violence, devastating floods, deadly bus and boat accidents, and growing concerns about crimes against foreigners.

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